By BRADEN LAMMERS
Traffic headaches are about to become a reality for city residents and passers-through.
Road closures, detours and pedestrian detours for the first three stages of work on the downtown portion of the Ohio River Bridges Project were presented to the Jeffersonville Board of Public Works on Wednesday. Preparatory work has begun along Jeffersonville’s riverfront, but road closures aren’t expected to begin until July 29.
Stage one of construction in Indiana will include building the new ramp off of Interstate 65 to Court Avenue, in addition to revisions to Stansifer Avenue ramps, said Andrew Ledbetter, engineer with Jacobs Engineering Inc.
Planners with the bridges project have said that the existing Court Avenue ramp will remain open during construction until the new ramp is completed and traffic can be switched over to it.
Ledbetter added that sidewalks at Court Avenue are going to be closed as the new access is tied into the surface road.
Stage two of the construction will result in more closures, including permanent closures to existing roadways.
“During stage two, Seventh Street, which currently [goes] under the interstate as an underpass, is going to be permanently closed,” he said.
The closure is tentatively set for Aug. 1.
Construction along Sixth Street will result in closures beginning Oct. 1, according to the tentative schedule. Both roads will be closed at Broadway Street and the Sixth Street ramp onto U.S. 31 northbound also will be closed.
A new gateway is slated to be built at Sixth Street, as well as at Court Avenue and 10th Street.
Following the closures at Sixth and Seventh streets, road closures on Riverside Drive and Market Street will go into effect.
“There won’t be closures at both locations at the same time,” said Gary Fromm, section two technical manager with Jacobs Engineering, Inc. He added the work that will result in the closures won’t begin until later this year or early 2014 and will continue into the summer or fall of 2014.
The first portion of that work that will create a closure will be on the overpasses being constructed for the northbound portion of I-65. Work on the I-65 southbound portion, the existing approaches to the Kennedy Bridge, will not start until 2016.
When work does commence and closures are in effect for Riverside Drive, traffic will be diverted at Riverpointe Plaza or Clark Street, to Market Street. When work is ongoing at Market Street, the closures will again be in place at Riverpointe Plaza and Clark Street, with traffic being diverted onto Riverside Drive. Pedestrian detours will follow the traffic detours when the roads are closed.
The major impact to traffic will be felt in stage three of construction, Ledbetter said.
During the stage, the Clark Memorial Bridge will be closed for 30 to 45 days, beginning in May.
“We have a temporary closure ... to remove limestone fascia of the retaining walls which will be reused in the new retaining walls,” Ledbetter said. “During that time, we’re going to start construction of our new flyover ramp over I-65.”
At the same time the bridge closes, U.S. 31 just north of Court Avenue (which leads to I-65 access) will be closed. It will remain closed for about a year.
In order to accommodate traffic attempting to access I-65 north, or U.S. 31 north, while a new flyover ramp is under construction, planners developed a detour through downtown Jeffersonville.
However, when the plan was presented — to direct traffic onto Court Avenue, to Spring Street, down to 10th Street and back onto the highways — concerns were raised by Jeffersonville Street and Sanitation Commissioner David Hosea.
“That truck traffic going down Spring [Street] .... that won’t hold it, it’ll tear that road up,” he said.
Hosea said he had concerns about not only the road being damaged by the rerouted truck traffic, but that the heavy loads may also damage water and gas lines under Spring Street. Jeffersonville City Engineer Andy Crouch said he understood Hosea’s concerns, but did not see an immediate alternative to the proposed detour.
“The primary way they’re going to want to do that, no matter what the signs say, is going to be up Spring [Street],” Crouch said of the truck traffic. “That’s your main route between Court [Avenue] and 10th [Street].”
He added that the trucks could not use other routes down Indiana, Ohio or Michigan avenues because of the combined sewer overflow interceptor planned to be constructed to alleviate flooding and address an Environmental Protection Agency agreed order.
Wastewater Superintendent Len Ashack said the CSO interceptor construction will be ongoing from 2014-16.
“You’ve got an interceptor project going through there and you don’t have a signal at any of those intersections,” Crouch said. “I understand your concern, it’s just my fear that I don’t care where you put the signs, once people figure out ... Spring Street is a big, wide street and there’s a light there I’m going to go there and turn.
“I think that’s going to end up being, no matter how you sign it, I think that’s going to end up being the route people want to go.”
Project planners had called for creating a no on-street parking area on Court Avenue from Pearl Street, beyond Spring Street in order to install a left turn lane at Court Avenue and Spring Street.
The city and bridge planners agreed to discuss alternatives to directing truck traffic down Spring Street.
An updated schedule of closures and detours will be presented to the city as they become available.
“This is only stage one through three; there are six stages,” Ledbetter said.