MAIN ART SHERMAN MINTON BRIDGE-9

Vehicles travel toward New Albany on the top deck of the Sherman Minton Bridge in 2017.

NEW ALBANY — Full closure will likely be “limited significantly” over the two to three years of the improvement project slated for the Sherman Minton Bridge, but the work is still scheduled to begin in 2021.

“There are no plans to delay the project due to COVID,” said Sherman Minton Renewal spokeswoman Andrea Brady on Friday.

There were concerns about how the project would impact businesses when it was first announced, and some have expressed additional worries after the coronavirus shut down many establishments.

Sherman Minton Renewal’s public meetings garnered feedback about the project, including input on traffic options. Brady said the final plan to be submitted will include multiple traffic approaches that she said will reflect that input.

“Full closure will be limited to a very, very limited number of days throughout the construction,” she said.

The Sherman Minton Renewal is a joint project between Kentucky and Indiana that will cost over $90 million. It will feature rehabilitation and painting work on the bridge. Brady, while speaking about the need for the upgrades, said the 57-year-old Sherman Minton Bridge still has an original deck.

Bridge decks, structural steel elements and hangar cables will be replaced or refurbished as part of the construction. New lighting will be added and drainage repair and painting of steel components will be completed.

The bridge carries six lanes of traffic and about 90,000 drivers each day between Indiana and Kentucky.

“It’s a critically important piece of infrastructure that connects our two communities,” Brady said.

The Sherman Minton Bridge isn’t tolled and provides easy access to New Albany from Louisville. During public meetings, business owners expressed concerns of potential revenue losses due to full or partial lane closures on the bridge.

Though he acknowledged the construction could strain traffic flow, New Albany Mayor Jeff Gahan said he’s pleased that the preliminary plan doesn’t call for an extended closure of the Sherman Minton.

“There will be inconveniences, no question, on both sides,” Gahan said Friday. “But I think leaving it open will at least maybe reduce the potential harmful impact of a complete shutdown of the bridge.”

Brady said the environmental documentation submissions should be completed in June. A contractor will be hired and pre-construction work completed before the project is scheduled to begin in early 2021.

A massive project like the Sherman Minton Renewal will cause some disruptions, but Brady said the public will see a reflection of its feedback in the final traffic plan.

“I think people appreciate that the Sherman Minton Renewal is a critical project that’s going to add years of service life to a 57-year-old bridge, and it’s a project that’s got to happen,” she said.

Gahan concurred about the importance of the improvements.

“The project is needed. It’s been needed for a long time,” he said.

For more information, go to the website shermanmintonrenewal.com.

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