September 10, 2011

LOUISVILLE, KY. (WDRB) -- During a press conference with the media on Saturday afternoon, Governor Mitch Daniels said it would take 3 weeks or more to determine how extensive repairs will need to be for the Sherman Minton Bridge. Once officials have determined the extent of the damage, then repairs will begin.



LOUISVILLE, KY. (WDRB) -- The Sherman Minton bridge has been closed in both directions.  It will not reopen for several days as inspectors determine the severity of two cracks found in a load-bearing structure of the bridge.

The bridge carries Interstate 64 traffic between southern Indiana and Louisville.

Indiana Gov. Daniels ordered the immediate closure about 5 p.m. Friday after construction crews found at least one "structural crack" in a load-bearing part of the bridge during inspections on Thursday.  Previously scheduled construction and repair work was already underway on the bridge.

Indiana Dept. of Transportation Chief of Staff Bob Zier told WDRB News two of more than 90 load-supporting beams on the bridge showed cracks.  Nine more were fine.  Inspectors were to examine the remaining 81 beams as soon as possible, Zier said.

Zier also said that he would not have sent his own family across the bridge in its current condition, and that he told some of them Friday to stay away.

Police said the shutdown is not related to any terror threat.

"This is a safety move," said New Albany, Ind., police chief Todd Bailey on WDRB News @ 6:30.

He told reporter Katie Delaune officers were setting up detours to make for "as few headaches as possible."  The closure means one of the three bridges connecting Louisville, Kentucky, to southern Indiana is shut down "indefinitely."

The Indiana Dept. of Transportation said inspections on the bridge will occur "in the coming days."

Teams of engineers and other experts from Indiana and Kentucky will examine the crack and determine how to repair it, spokespersons for both governors said.

The suggested detour route includes I-265 east through New Albany to I-65 south for eastbound traffic and I-65 north to I-265 west through New Albany for westbound traffic.

This situation will increase traffic volume through Spaghetti Junction and on the Kennedy and Clark Memorial Bridges.

The bottom line for I-64 traffic through the weekend and Monday, at least:  study detours and plan for long delays.

In Louisville, 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," according to a statement from Mayor Greg Fischer.

Ind. Gov. Mitch Daniels made the decision to close the bridge after consulting with Ky. Gov. Steve Beshear and transportation department officials from both states, said Daniels spokesperson Jane Jankowski.

The Indiana Governor's office has released this information to the public:

Governor Mitch Daniels tonight (Friday) ordered the immediate closure of the Sherman-Minton Bridge between Indiana and Kentucky near Louisville.

Indiana and Kentucky transportation officials were informed today of the discovery of a concerning crack in the critical load-carrying element of the bridge on Thursday. Structural engineers from the state and private sectors, as well as from engineering universities, recommended closing the bridge today after examining Thursday's data. Experts have been at the bridge in past weeks performing ongoing maintenance and detailed inspections.

After consultation with Indiana and Kentucky transportation officials and the Federal Highway Administration, Daniels decided to close the bridge immediately.

The closure is indefinite pending further notice. Further examinations of the structure will take place in the coming days.

Traffic is being detoured over I-265 and I-65. The Indiana Department of Transportation, in coordination with the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet and Federal Highway Administration, will strive to keep the public informed as it develops a traffic plan for the coming work week and as more information becomes available.

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