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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 Next Louisville

Motorists Can Expect Delays Following Bridge Closing

Transportation officials in Kentucky and Indiana are urging motorists to exercise patience during their commutes in the coming weeks.       

The sudden closure of the Sherman Minton Bridge Friday means thousands of motorists will have to find an alternate route across the Ohio River

Yesterday, authorities unveiled a detailed traffic plan aimed at reducing congestion during peak drive times. It includes reversible lanes on the Clark Memorial Bridge and right lane restrictions on the Kennedy Bridge

Kentucky Transportation Secretary Mike Hancock says the plan is subject to change.

“We expect to be monitoring this situation on a minute to minute basis, and we will be flexible about the things that we are doing to try to give the public the maximum opportunity that we can to get them from place to place in the Louisville Metro area,” he said.

The Sherman Minton Bridge was closed after inspectors discovered cracks in two load-bearing support beams. It will take at least three weeks for engineers to finish inspecting the bridge for more faults.

Government officials have collaborated with the Courier-Journal to post a detailed traffic map on its website.

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Local News

Sherman Minton Bridge Closure: Traffic Plan Unveiled For Monday Rush

Kentucky and Indiana transportation officials have prepared a traffic plan for the commutes into and out of Louisville, as thousands of motorists who use the Sherman Minton Bridge will have to find an alternate route across the Ohio River.

Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels ordered the Interstate-64 span shut down Friday after cracks were found in two load-bearing support beams.

In response, officials have added reversible lanes on the Clark Memorial Bridge, widened some exit ramps, and will have police directing traffic in some of the more congested areas. Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer has asked motorists to form carpools and for employers to stagger their work schedules to help avoid gridlock.

Daniels says it will take at least three weeks for engineers to finish scouring the nearly 50 year old span for more faults and determine a repair plan.

He says it’s too early to tell whether the the bridge will have to be replaced.

“I don’t think anything can be excluded at this point. It’s been well said, ‘safety first’ and we’re going to take no chances. So ask in three weeks and we’ll have a better sense. My guess is that’s not a very likely outcome,” he said.

The Courier-Journal has posted a detailed, interactive traffic plan on its website, in conjuction with government officials.

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Local News Next Louisville Politics

Kentucky, Indiana Seek To Intervene In Bridges Suit

The Kentucky Transportation Cabinet and the Indiana Department of Transportation have asked to intervene in a lawsuit filed by two groups over the Ohio River Bridges Project.

The groups—River Fields and the National Trust for Historic Preservation—filed suit against the Federal Highway Administration claiming it didn’t follow federal law when it approved the project in 2003.

Kentucky Transportation Secretary Mike Hancock said the motion to intervene was filed Monday in U.S. District Court in Louisville because the lawsuit “threatens to delay the project and drive up costs.”

River Fields and the National Trust filed the lawsuit against the FHWA in September 2009.

The Kentucky Transportation Cabinet and Indiana Department of Transportation have participated in legal proceedings related to the case but have not been formal parties.

The suit also prompted the creation of Kentuckians for Progress, which has mounted a public campaign aimed at pressuring the groups to drop the litigation. It’s also seeking to join the lawsuit and dismantle it.

(Information for this story also came from the Associated Press)

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Local News

Ferry Service Proposed During Milton-Madison Bridge Closure

Many motorists who drive across the bridge connecting Milton, Kentucky and Madison, Indiana could be temporarily ferried across the Ohio River in 2011.

Transportation officials in Kentucky and Indiana are proposing a ferry service that would operate during the scheduled replacement of the bridge’s superstructure.

Kentucky Department of Transportation spokesperson Andrea Clifford says if federal stimulus funds are secured as hoped, preliminary work on the project would begin in mid-2010.

“But in early 2011 we would have to start removing the current superstructure, and at that time in order to help mitigate the impact, we would provide a free ferry service,” she said.

“We would run two ferries during the day, most of the day, and maybe one ferry during the overnight hours. Each ferry could accomodate up to about 24 cars, and it takes about 12 minutes to load, get across the river and unload. So during the peak hours we could carry about 240 cars an hour.”

Clifford says officials want to hear public input on the ferry proposal via an on-line poll.

A photo of the proposed ferry route can be seen here.

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Local News

States Seek Federal Funds For Two Bridge Projects

Kentucky and Indiana officials are teaming up to apply for federal stimulus funds to complete two bridge projects on the Ohio River.

The Kentucky Transportation Cabinet and the Indiana Department of Transportation are asking for $95 million to replace the 80 year old Milton-Madison Bridge, and another $25 million for the project to tranform the old Big Four Railroad Bridge into a pedestrian walkway linking Louisville’s Waterfront Park and Jeffersonville, Indiana.

Kentucky Transportation Cabinet spokesperson Chuck Wolfe says the funds being sought come from a $1.5 billion grant pool set aside for projects that can be completed by 2012.

“Kentucky and Indiana, by teaming up, we feel it adds some strength to the application and shows broad support for these two projects,” Wolfe said.

Wolfe says it will likely be several months before there’s an answer from the federal government.

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INDOT Taking Bids For Stimulus-Funded Road Projects

The Indiana Department of Transporation is moving quickly to award bids for state highway projects to be funded through the federal economic stimulus package.

The state has already received bids on 26 projects it had earlier identified as eligible for about $39 million in federal stimulus money. Governor Mitch Daniels Friday announced that bids are being sought on 29 more projects, valued at about $44 million.

Daniels says Indiana’s existing “Major Moves” road improvement initiative has helped move the process along.

“One reason we’re able to move fast is we’ve got this (Major Moves) list,” Daniels said. “We’re just pulling projects forward off a list that already exists. In other states, they’re scrambling to decide what heretofore unaffordable projects to begin.”

Indiana is getting $658 million in federal stimulus funds for state and local transportation projects.

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Indiana DOT Announces I-65 Lane Closures

Southern Indiana motorists who plan to travel southbound over the Kennedy Bridge Friday and Saturday nights will encounter some delays

Friday night, the Indiana Department of Transportation will be patching the outside lane of southbound I-65 between Mile Marker One and the bridge, as well as a two nearby ramps.

Spokesperson Marvin Jenkins says work continues Saturday night on two other southbound lanes approaching the bridge.

“It will start about 8:00pm (Saturday), they’ll work in the median lane. Then starting about 10:00pm, they’ll close the center lane. So at 10:00pm two of the three lanes will be restricted,” Jenkins said.

Meanwhile, the nearby Clark Memorial Bridge will be closed from 8:00-10:00pm Saturday for a charity fundraiser.

Jenkins says there will be signs directing motorists to an alternate route that will take them over the Sherman Minton Bridge.