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Indiana Officials Say Full Replacement Not Needed for Sherman Minton Bridge

The Indiana Department of Transportation announced Friday that the Sherman Minton Bridge will not need to be replaced.

For the past two weeks, state inspectors from Indiana and the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet have been examining the bridge, which Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels ordered shut down on September 9 after a crack was found in its load-bearing support.

Indiana Transportation Commissioner Michael B. Cline says the agency has learned enough in its ongoing testing and assessment of the 50-year-old span, which connects Louisville to southern Indiana, to rule out that a full replacement of the bridge will be needed.

“We won’t know with 100 percent certainty as to what the repair solution will be until our testing is complete, but nothing we have seen indicates that replacing the bridge is necessary,” he says.

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Officials Say Bridge Inspection At Midpoint

Engineers say it will take another week-and-a-half to finish their inspection of the Sherman Minton Bridge.   Then they’ll be able to determine how long it will take to repair the bridge and re-open it to traffic.

The bridge has been closed since September 9, when inspectors found a crack in a load-bearing support.  

Now its getting a thorough examination to determine if there are other faults, and inspectors are on schedule to finish the job in about ten days.

Gary Panariello with the New York engineering firm Thornton Tomasetti says it’s too early to make any assumptions about the scope of the repair job.

“The testing that we’ve seen so far is kind of what we’ve expected.   But it has not driven us to a conclusion yet or any way to presume where we might be going yet,” he told reporters at a briefing today in New Albany.

Indiana Department of Transportation leaders say they’re holding discussions with officials from Norfolk Southern Railroad about opening the automobile lane of the K&I Bridge, which has been closed to the public since 1979. 

The department’s Scott Stewart says at this point, however, it doesn’t appear to be a feasible option.

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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 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 Politics

Former State Official Fined For Ethics Violation

By Tony McVeigh, Kentucky Public Radio

A former Fletcher Administration official has been fined by Kentucky’s Executive Branch Ethics Commission.

After serving as deputy secretary of the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet, Crystal Murray Ducker went to work for RJ Corman Railroad Group in Nicholasville.

But the ethics commission says Ducker’s actions violated an ethics code prohibition against state officials accepting jobs – within six months of leaving office – with any company over which they had direct dealings as a state official.

Ducker says she did not knowingly violate the ethics code, but agrees to pay a $500 fine and waive her right to appeal.

Prior to joining the Transportation Cabinet, Ducker was an aide to then-Gov. Ernie Fletcher, and among administration officials who testified to a grand jury in the state hiring probe.

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Bridge Replacement To Close Stretch Of I-64

By Sheila Ash

Motorists traveling in both directions on I-64 in Shelby County can expect delays during the overnight hours Monday and Tuesday due to construction at the overpass on KY 1848.

Spokesperson Andrea Clifford with the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet says a bridge is being replaced in the area.

“The section of I-64 at the Simpsonville exit is going to be closed Monday evening August 30th and Tuesday evening August 31st. This will allow for demolition of the bridge on KY 1848 that goes over the interstate,” she said.

The interstate will be closed from 7:00pm until 6:00am both days. Traffic will be will be detoured off the exit ramp at Simpsonville and then take the entrance ramp back on to I-64. The new bridge was built as part of a road widening project.

Construction is expected to be completed in the summer of 2011.

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Local News

Numerous Kentucky Roads Remain Closed

By Dan Modlin, Kentucky Public Radio

Kentucky Transportation Cabinet officials say high water continues to create hazards on roadways across the commonwealth.                       

Spokesperson Keith Todd says it may be several days before all roadways are passable.

“There will be lots of places out there that our people will be going and checking where there’s been damage to roadways.  So we just need everybody as they’re getting out to be extra cautious.   We’re probably going to continue to have water problems through about the middle of the week.”  he said.

Todd says motorists should avoid driving across roadways that are water-covered.   Damage to roadways may not be apparent because of the high water.    Motorists are being advised to avoid the Nashville, Tennessee area, which was especially hard it.     Floodwaters are blamed for at least two deaths in Kentucky.  

(Photo courtesy of the National Weather Service, Louisville)

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Local News

City, State Crews Clearing Roads

Lousville Mayor Jerry Abramson says there have been no major problems in the wake of the latest winter storm to move across the region.

Abramson says road crews were out ahead of the snowfall early Monday and will continue to target slick roads in the aftermath.

This is the seventh winter weather event of the season for Public Works crews, but the mayor says there’s plenty of road salt stored away.

“Six or seven thousand tons are in the domes, on top of the ground. Twenty-five thousand tons are underneath the zoo in the undergound, we have not had to tap the underground,” he said.

Abramson says snow removal expenses such as overtime and materials are building up, but are still within the budget.

Kentucky Transportation Cabinet officials say their crews continue to clear interstates and other roads that are the state’s responsibility.

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Local News

Snowstorm Slams E. Ky.; Gov. Declares Emergency

A state of emergency continues for counties in eastern and central Kentucky hard hit by heavy snow Saturday.

Governor Steve Beshear issued the declaration after a winter storm dumped more than a foot of snow in some areas and left more than 100,000 without electricity.

Beshear is scheduled to tour some of the harder hit areas today, with stops scheduled in Pike and Letcher counties.

The Louisville area and much of western Kentucky escaped the winter weather, as temperatures remained warm enough to limit the precipitation to rain.

Road conditions throughout the state can be found on the Kentucky Department of Transportation’s Web site, or by calling 511 in Kentucky or 1-866-737-3767 for out-of-state callers