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Early Repair Work Underway On Sherman Minton Bridge

Indiana Department of Transportation officials say preliminary work has begun on Sherman Minton Bridge repair project.

The project’s contractor has pledged to have the span re-opened by early March.

The Sherman Minton Bridge was shut down September 9 after a crack was discovered in a load-bearing support.

Last-month, Louisville-based Hall Contracting won the bid to reinforce the span. Some 2.4 million pounds of steel are being cast for the project, and Hall is installing platforms that will allow crews to work under the bridge.

INDOT spokesman Will Wingfield says the countdown for Hall to complete the work began more than two weeks ago.

“The clock is ticking, and there’s severe pressure on Hall Contracting to get the work done. Not only in terms of damages that they would be liable for ($100,000 per day) if they don’t meet that 135 day schedule, but also the incentives of $100,000 per day. That is to my knowledge the highest incentives that INDOT has ever put on a contract,” Wingfield said.

Hall Contracting says it can have the project completed by March 2nd, if weather permits, at a total cost of $13.9 million.

(Photo by Erica Peterson)

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Local News Politics

Sherman Minton Bridge Contract Awarded, Repair Work to Begin Soon

A Louisville-based company has won the contracting to repair the Sherman Minton Bridge, and work could begin this week.

Hall Contracting submitted a bid to repair the bridge in 135 days at a cost of $13.9 million. Indiana Department of Transportation spokesman Will Wingfield says there are some final details to iron out, but Hall will be cleared to work tomorrow.

“They will be gearing up,” says Wingfield. “They’ll need to mobilize equipment, bring in the steel that probably is just now being ordered. All of that will take a little bit of time. That should be included in their 135-day estimate.”

The federal government will cover $3.4 million of the cost. The rest will be split between the states, with each paying just over $5 million. Some of that expense could be reimbursed with federal funds.

“Federal funds outside of special grants are on a reimbursement basis,” says Wingfield. “So INDOT and KYTC move forward under all federal standards and could be reimbursed 80-90 percent of their costs.”

The bridge has been closed for over a month. The repairs will consist of installing new steel on the bridge ties.

Hall Contracting will receive an additional $100,000 for every day they finish ahead of schedule.

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Sherman Minton Bridge Repairs to Cost $20 Million, Take Six Months

Repairs to the Sherman Minton Bridge are expected to take about six months and will cost approximately $20 million, according to state and federal officials.

Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels, Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear and Federal Highway Administrator Victor Mendez announced the details this morning, adding that work will begin immediately.

The U.S. Department of Transportation could pay about $5 million of the cost, though the rest will be split between Kentucky and Indiana.

WFPL’s Devin Katayama is talking with Daniels, Beshear and Mendez and will have more on this story later this morning.

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Bridge Closure: Ramp Widening Underway In Southern Indiana

Indiana Department of Transportation workers have begun expanding several interstate ramps in southern Indiana from one to two lanes to help ease congestion caused by the closure of the Sherman Minton Bridge.

Paving and striping crews are expanding the I-265 westbound ramp to I-64 westbound, and the I-64 eastbound ramp to I-265 eastbound today.

Tomorrow, they’ll expand the I-265 eastbound ramp to I-65 southbound.

All the work is taking place between morning and evening rush hours.

Later today, officials are expected to announce details to run a shuttle across the Ohio River, between Jeffersonville and the 4th Street Wharf.

Transportation officials urge motorists who have the cross the river to leave early, carpool or use public transit when possible or try to arrange a telecommute or staggered shift with their employers.

More traffic information can be found here.

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Local News Politics

Yarmuth Says Sherman Minton Repairs as Serious as Disaster Relief

Third District Congressman John Yarmuth has called the White House to discuss the Sherman Minton Bridge closure.

“We have no idea at this point the extent of the repairs that would be needed or even if the bridge can be repaired,” says Yarmuth. “There’s a chance this is going to require a significant expenditure of money and that could require congressional action.”

Yarmuth says the bridge’s effect on the local economy is too large to ignore. He’s talked with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell as well.

In his jobs speech last week, President Barack Obama cited the Brent Spence Bridge several miles upriver as an example of the country’s crumbling infrastructure. Yarmuth says if federal spending is necessary to repair or replace the Sherman Minton Bridge, it must not be politicized.

“If this is the type of thing that politicians in Washington can’t resolve, then the system is hopelessly broken. This is something that shouldn’t be partisan. There shouldn’t be a question about the need to do this. This is every bit as serious as disaster relief in Vermont and New Jersey and Connecticut,” he says.

A spokesman for McConnell says the Senator is watching the situation and talking with transportation officials.

Indiana congressman Todd Young says he’s working with state officials as well.

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Bridge To Be Closed For Weeks; Officials Working On Traffic Plan

Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels says the Sherman Minton Bridge will remain closed for more than three weeks, as engineers inspect the bridge for more structural faults and determine how to repair them.

Daniels ordered the nearly 50 year old span shut down Friday after inspectors discovered cracks in two support beams.

Indiana Department of Transportation Chief of Staff Bob Zier says the first crack was discovered Thursday afternoon.

“They took it out, took a sample of it. they sampled that, they worked on that sample Thursday night, Friday morning and they came to us Friday afternoon about two o’clock and said, ‘you’ve got a major problem with this fault. They sampled 11 beams, two of the beams had faults in them, and we still have 81 more to go,” he said at a Saturday briefing.

Traffic is being detoured around the bridge, using Interstates-65 and I-265 and the Kennedy and Clark Memorial bridges. Governor Steve Beshear says the bridges will be able to withstand the increased traffic load.

Officials are now preparing for Monday’s morning and evening peak travel times. They’re working on a plan that would reverse one lane of the Clark Memorial Bridge during morning and evening rush, and to widen some Interstate ramps.

Mayor Greg Fischer (at right in photo with Gov. Mitch Daniels and Gov. Steve Beshear) is asking Monday commuters to carpool whenever possible and employers to stagger their work schedules to help alleviate the extra traffic that will clog the Kennedy and Clark Memorial bridges.

“If their employees can telecommute until we figure this out, that would be helpful as well. So please for our citizens think about how you can be part of the solution,” Fischer said.

Officials say about 72,000 vehicles crossed the Sherman Minton each day, and about 17-percent of Louisville’s workforce lives in southern Indiana.