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Sherman Minton Bridge Closed Indefinitely After Crews Find Potential Weakness

The Sherman Minton Bridge is closed indefinitely.

Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels ordered the closure today. Yesterday, crews found a crack in a load-carrying piece of the span.

The bridge carries traffic on Interstate 64 between Kentucky and New Albany, Indiana. Traffic is being rerouted to I-265 and I-65. It will likely back up traffic on the Kennedy and Clark Memorial bridges between Indiana and downtown Louisville.

Further inspections of the Sherman Minton Bridge will take place in the coming days, according to a statement from Governor Daniels.

Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer says closing the bridge is “the right decision.” City officials will meet with state officials to prepare for Monday’s rush hour and any subsequent delays.

The closure comes one day after President Barack Obama’s jobs speech, in which he mentioned the Brent Spencer Bridge between Kentucky and Ohio as an example of the nation’s crumbling infrastructure. Several observers on Twitter were quick to point that out. The hashtag #loubridge is the most commonly used for tweets about the situation. WFPL will use it whenever possible.

Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear has promised to send a team of “bridge inspectors, engineers, and consultants” to assist Indiana and federal crews in evaluating the bridge.

The full statement from Mayor Fischer:

“The public’s safety is the most important concern and, with the information we now have, closing the bridge is the right decision until we can further access the situation,” Mayor Greg Fischer said. “Police Chief Robert White and Metro Government leaders will be meeting over the weekend with officials in Southern Indiana and in both states to develop a plan to ensure the smooth flow of traffic in the days and weeks ahead. We will be working around the clock to be prepared for rush hour on Monday morning.”

From Governor Beshear:

“I have directed the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet to send a team of our state’s bridge inspectors, engineers, and consultants to help evaluate the situation as quickly as possible and assist the State of Indiana and the Federal Highway Administration.  These evaluations will begin immediately and will be coordinated with the Indiana Department of Transportation.  Our highest priority is confidence that the public’s safety is assured.”

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Local News

I-64 Ramps To Close Overnight Saturday

A portion of Intestate 64 in Louisville will close for several hours tomorrow Saturday night.

The exit ramps on I-64 westbound to the Watterson will be closed until Sunday morning. Transportation Cabinet spokesperson Andrea Clifford says drivers will be detoured onto Cannons Lane, then to 64 eastbound to the Watterson.

“This is part of the construction project that we’re doing where we’re building an auxillary lane on westbound I-64. So the ramp is going to close at 7:00 Saturday night and re-open at 8 am Sunday morning,” she says. “Once the construction work is completed on the entire project, the two outside lanes—the two right lanes—on Interstate 64 will be exit-only lanes for the Watterson Expressway. One will be for the eastbound direction and one will be for the westbound direction.”

After the entire project is complete, I-64 westbound will have two exit-only lanes for the Watterson.