Engineers and highway workers took elected officials on a tour of the Sherman Minton Bridge today to brief them on the span’s structural problems. The bridge was closed a week ago after a crack was discovered.
Mayor Greg Fischer, Senator Mitch McConnell, Representatives John Yarmuth and Todd Young were there, along with Kentucky Transportation Secretary Mike Hancock.
All emphasized the need to work together, across state and party lines, to deal with the regional issues caused by the Sherman Minton Bridge closure.
Congressman John Yarmuth says the country can’t ignore its infrastructure.
“To me, situations like these, this isn’t elected surgery,” he said. “This is essentially a life-threatening situation in terms of regional commerce. So we have to do this, and there are thousands of situations like this around the country.”
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell says the state has several bridges that need immediate repair, but he wouldn’t elaborate on whether the recently-proposed jobs bill by President Obama would address these critical infrastructure problems.
“I don’t want to get into an assessment of the President’s most recent stimulus suggestion,” McConnell said. “We’ll be assessing that and taking a look at it. I don’t rule all of that out or all of that in. What I can tell you is that the issue of roads and bridges are not partisan in Washington.”
All stressed that the Sherman Minton Bridge is not connected to the Ohio River Bridges project, and the Sherman Minton will be fixed regardless of the outcome of Louisville’s other proposed bridges.
None of the men would describe the damage they’d seen below the bridge, saying only that there were more issues than previously thought. A report is expected in the next few weeks on the Sherman Minton’s prognosis.