Area motorists should get ready to cross the Kennedy or Sherman Minton bridges exclusively when traveling to and from Louisville, as the Clark Memorial Bridge will soon be closed for nearly six weeks.
Officials with The Ohio River Bridges Project-downtown crossing announced Wednesday that the closure of the bridge leading to Second Street in Louisville will begin at midnight, the morning of July 8. The closure is to allow improvements to be made on the U.S. 31 approach leading to the bridge.
New Albany resident Angie Fenton, 39, said she is not sure just how much of an inconvenience the closure of Clark Memorial Bridge will be for her. She commutes daily into Louisville where she works as an entertainment correspondent for WHAS 11’s “Great Day Live.”
Fenton said she crosses the bridge — which handles about 25,000 vehicles daily — because it spills onto Main Street and it’s an easy drive, from there, to her office.
She said she is expecting to become much more familiar with Interstate 64 over the course of the bridge closure.
“I understand. They have to make repairs and keep bridges safe, I just wish they could do it in bits and pieces so, at least, there is access because you are all of a sudden moving a volume of people to two normally crowded other [bridges],” Fenton said. “It is an inconvenience, but you do what you have to do. My only hope is when they say six weeks, they mean six weeks.”
Fenton said she will begin leaving for work sooner and remember to be patient.
“I’m going to leave early enough and just kind of suck it up because, really, this is going to be a benefit to all of us, all the bridges once they are all done,” she said.
I-65 LANE SWITCH
During a media conference atop the roof of Jewish Hospital parking garage Wednesday, Andy Barber, of the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet, also announced a roadway switch along Interstate 65 South in downtown Louisville.
“We are getting ready to open a section of new I-65 southbound, spanning from Witherspoon South to Muhammad Ali [Boulevard],” Barber said.
The traffic transfers will take place over the weekend.
“This new section of roadway will carry I-65 southbound traffic coming from I-64 westbound and I-71 southbound, merging onto a new alignment shifted to the right, Saturday night,” Barber said. “I-65 [traffic] coming off the Kennedy Bridge will be shifted to the right onto this new alignment, overnight, Sunday night.”
Walsh Construction Project Manager Max Rowland said the shifting of traffic will allow the second phase of construction on I-65 to begin.
“We will be working between the lanes,” Rowland said. “We will start all over again. The first thing that you will see is bridge demolition, tearing down the bridges that are there now, all the way from Main, Market and Jefferson [streets] down to Muhammad Ali.”
He said construction will begin on the north end and then proceed south.
“Once the bridges are demolished, we will also be removing the existing pavement. We will be driving pilings again,” he said. “There are a lot of pilings to be driven on the phase two.”
He said the project will then lead to pouring cement in substructures and the setting of beams before moving into phase three, which he expects to take place between the end of this year and the middle of 2015.
Rowland said he does not expect the time of commutes to be affected by the new traffic pattern.