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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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Revive 65 Southbound Work Begins

The southbound portion of the Revive 65 project begins Monday. Several lanes of Interstate 65 will be closed between the Watterson Expressway and Fern Valley Road.

The repaving of several miles of southbound 65 is expected to continue around the clock until November 15th. Northbound work was extended one week due to unstable soil conditions under portions of the highway. Transportation Cabinet spokesperson Andrea Clifford says it’s unclear if this portion of the project could face similar delays.

“When we get into the southbound work and remove those concrete layers, we’ll have to see if the soil on that side is stable enough to hold the construction traffic and the new roadway or if we’re going to have to do what’s called undercutting and remove that soil and go back with aggregate,” she says.

After the 15th, lighter work will continue at night for another month.

“The rest of the work as to be completed by December 15th, and that is items like guardrail installations and bridge-joint repairs, but those lane closures will be restricted to nights and weekends,” says Clifford.

The total project will cost 28 million dollars, 18 million of which will come from the federal stimulus package.