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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Two rush hours down, many more to go.
Traffic planners in Louisville and southern Indiana have made a few changes to their traffic flow plan to accommodate approximately 80,000 vehicles that now must use the Clark and Kennedy Bridges.
The changes take effect for Tuesday morning rush hour, the third commuter rush hour since Indiana authorities ordered the I-64 Sherman Minton bridge closed indefinitely. That bridge links Louisville to New Albany. Inspectors discovered cracks that forced an emergency closure during the Friday afternoon rush hour.
Authorities reported a handful of minor accidents on Monday.
Drivers reported delays of hours, in some cases, approaching Louisville from the north in the morning rush.
Those delays seemed to shorten for the trip north out of Louisville during afternoon rush.
Still, it took one New Albany driver 20 minutes to crawl along five blocks from near Broadway to the foot of the Clark Memorial Bridge along South 2nd Street on Monday afternoon.
"The traffic is just miserable. It's horrible," she said. Many other drivers used other colorful adjectives to describe their frustrations with emergency detours and other changes put into place over the weekend.
New changes for Tuesday include requiring drivers from the 3rd Street ramp of I-64 West to turn right and use 4th or 6th Streets to get into downtown.
Drivers who use River Road headed west into downtown will be forced to turn left onto 3rd Street.
Workers are re-timing certain stoplights and making certain interstate ramps wider to accommodate the sudden traffic.
Authorities praised the reversible "third lane" used on the Clark Memorial Bridge to help more traffic travel south into Louisville in the morning and travel north into Indiana in the afternoon.
However, they are adding parking restrictions near West Main and South Second Streets in Louisville at the foot of the bridge.
Crews were to install more-tightly-spaced plastic pylons along the far right lane of I-65 southbound on the Kennedy bridge to keep Spaghetti Junction drivers in their lane and prevent other drivers from late "lane jumping" just prior to the I-64 & I-71 exit into Spaghetti Junction.
Drivers broke several of those on Monday, workers said.
Indiana State Police and New Albany Mayor Doug England urged drivers to use Lewis & Clark Parkway, Veterans Parkway, Charlestown Road and Grant Line Road for cross-city travel and to access I-65. That could take some of the stress from drivers who packed Silver Street, Spring Street and Brown's Station Way Monday morning.
Traffic flow at the Clark bridge, ramps to I-65 north in Spaghetti Junction and other key points was reported "moving smoothly" late Monday afternoon by Louisville metro police. That came after the Kentucky Transportation Secretary predicted an afternoon rush as crowded as the morning rush.
"Above all, we need for the public to be patient," Mike Hancock told reporters.
"What we saw today is going to be the norm until that Sherman Minton Bridge gets opened up," said Indiana State Police Sgt. Jerry Goodin.
Residents say they worry about the conditions of the Clark and Kennedy bridges after the news of serious cracks found in the Sherman Minton.
The Clark bridge passed a Kentucky inspection in April, and the Kennedy bridge was due for an inspection starting Monday, Hancock said. The Kennedy inspection has been postponed.
"I am here again to reassure you those bridges are safe. We have confidence in the safety and reliability of those structures. The structural ability of those bridges are not in question," Hancock said.
Authorities could not say when the Sherman Minton Bridge would reopen. They did say inspections of the bridge could take three weeks, with repairs dependent upon what inspectors find. On Saturday, Jeffersonville Mayor Tom Galligan said the bridge could be closed for six months. Other officials would not confirm Galligan's claim.
WDRB in the Morning, 5-9 a.m. will bring you the latest traffic reports from MetroSafe's command post, Mike Marshall's Beat the Traffic network and roving reporters.
Bottom line remains to be patient, plan ahead and still leave early for your destinations. Use city streets instead of interstate highways when possible.