WDRB raises concerns about cracks on Kennedy Bridge ramp - WDRB 41 Louisville News

WDRB raises concerns about cracks on Kennedy Bridge ramp

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LOUISVILLE, KY. (WDRB) -- When alarmed viewers asked WDRB about cracks on the ramp to the Kennedy Bridge, WDRB News investigated.  Should drivers be concerned?

We're two days from Thanksgiving, and with the Sherman Minton Bridge closed, even more drivers than usual will use the Kennedy Bridge.  Officials admit the cracks are ugly but say they're not worried. 

But Jeffersonville resident Aaron Crane has a different reaction:  "It's alarming." 

The damage on the approach to the Kennedy is enough to startle any driver.   As you travel I-64 eastbound onto the bridge, you see concrete on support beams fractured.  Some cracks run so long and so deep that the cement has broken away and exposed steel rebar.

"I just don't see how that can be good," Crane says.  He brings the fear of a catastrophic collapse to work with him every day as he travels to and from Louisville for work:  "Your thought is to get across as quick as possible," he says.

WDRB's Gilbert Corsey took that concern to the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet in Frankfort, and showed engineers our video.  Chuck Wolfe with the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet says, "What you're seeing is superficial damage.  It's cosmetic.  This is a concrete sheet around the steel that really comprises the support."

Engineers say a leak on an expansion joint at the road's surface has allowed water to nestle into the concrete, rusting the steel inside.  That caused it to expand and crack the outer shell.  But Wolfe says, "There's still good steel under the rust and a whole lot more within the column that you don't see."

For that reason, engineers believe the ramp is safe.  Corsey asked, "What's the fix, How do you fix it and how immediately does that fix need to happen?"  Wolfe's response: "The typical repair technique is to sandblast, cover and epoxy and cover with more cement."

But repairs are not even planned right now.  Engineers estimate the concrete has been eroding five or six years, and say it would take at least 10 for more serious damage to occur.

That's little comfort for Crane, but for now he has no choice but to take the experts at their word.

Wolfe says, "We understand why people might see this and have questions about it.  It is unattractive, it is not, however, hazardous."

Meanwhile, the Sherman Minton bridge has been closed for 74 days.  An average of 80,000 vehicles used to cross that bridge daily.

If you add it up, that means 5,920,000 trips across the Sherman Minton have been detoured so far.  Steel work on the bridge is not expected to begin until December.

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