More repairs planned to damaged I-65 exit ramp - WDRB 41 Louisville News

More repairs planned to damaged I-65 exit ramp

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – The damaged column that prompted the emergency closure of a Spaghetti Junction exit ramp last month had deteriorated concrete at its center core, Kentucky officials said Monday in announcing new repairs.

Crews plan to strengthen the column later this month, requiring new lane closures.

"It was the first instance of deterioration that … seemed to go beyond just the cosmetic spalling of concrete on the outer casing of the column," said Chuck Wolfe, spokesman for the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet.

The ramp from Interstate 65 North to I-64 West was closed for about two days starting on Dec. 20 after state officials were alerted to crumbling concrete on a column. Steel supports have since been added on either side of the column.

The column is one of two on a pier that holds up the 49-year-old ramp, which carries an estimated 149,000 vehicles a day and crosses over Witherspoon Street northeast of Louisville Slugger Field. It has a concrete core encased by rebar, then surrounded by an outer layer of more concrete, according to the state.

Walsh Construction, which is building the downtown portion of the Ohio River Bridges Project, will make the repairs under a change order, said Mindy Peterson, a project spokeswoman. She wasn't able to immediately provide a cost estimate or specific length for the work, but she said her "best guess" is that it will last about five days. A start date hasn't been determined.

The ramp will be closed to traffic during the repairs, she said.

Peterson said tests on the column's concrete aren't yet complete but "they have enough information" to develop a repair plan. During the ramp closure, Walsh will chip out concrete at the center of the column and add new material; replace the damaged rebar; and wrap the column in new concrete.

The ramp, which is to be demolished next year as part of the bridges project, had been last inspected in June 2012. Inspectors rated the substructure – the elements, like piers and columns, that support the elevated roadway – in "fair" condition.

The inspection report noted that eight columns had "large spalls with rebar exposed," although the column that led to the December ramp closure wasn't specifically named.

Kentucky officials also ordered a review of dozens of other columns in the interchange with indications of section loss and exposed rebar, according to the state.

"We are building a brand new interchange that will improve safety for many decades to come, but we must focus on the immediate safety needs that we face today," Andy Barber, the Transportation Cabinet's bridges project manager, said in a statement. 

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