Emergency responders preparing for I-65 lane closures - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Emergency responders preparing for I-65 lane closures

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JEFFERSONVILLE, Ind. (WDRB) - Emergency responders are preparing for traffic jams and less room to get to calls when lanes close on I-65 in southern Indiana next week.

Each direction of the interstate will go from three to two lanes. Ohio River Bridges Project officials say the construction will affect about a 1.5 mile stretch, from the Kennedy Bridge to Brown's Station Way. That leaves less room for ambulances, squad cars and fire trucks.

"It could certainly slow down response times," said Jeffersonville Fire Chief Eric Hedrick. "With the congested traffic and the narrower lanes, we're concerned about where the cars are going to go to allow the emergency vehicles to actually access the point of the incident."

Hedrick says the department wants to practice before a real emergency call.

"We certainly plan on getting some units up on the bridge as soon as the changes take place, to look at the different scenarios, the different entry points, on how we can do it," he said.

Hedrick says planning and coordination will be key, on both sides of the river. He believes Louisville Metro crews will have better access to accidents in the northbound lanes, while Indiana first responders will have better access to the southbound lanes.

Ohio River Bridges Project officials say they've already had a meeting with first responders ahead of the Sept. 2 changes. We're told another meeting is in the works for later this week.

"We want to make sure that they're aware of what's going to be happening, we want to make sure that they can access the points they need to access," said Downtown Crossing Spokesperson Mindy Peterson.

Project officials say the lane changes will be long term and last about two years. Hedrick says when they do get to a serious call, other drivers can expect long back ups.

"If it happens to be an extraction or a rescue, with the narrow lanes, we'll probably have to completely block traffic I would think to do an operation like that," Hedrick said.

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