Damaged section of Kennedy Bridge was part of $22 million repair work in 2016
Kentucky officials haven’t yet concluded why the expansion joint became dislodged or if other joints on the bridge may be susceptible to similar failures.
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – The part of the John F. Kennedy Bridge that came loose Sunday night and forced Kentucky officials to make emergency repairs was added during a $22 million improvement project done less than two years ago.
The Kentucky Transportation Cabinet, which is in charge of maintaining the Interstate 65 bridge connecting Louisville and Indiana, has not yet concluded why the expansion joint became dislodged or if other joints on the bridge may be susceptible to similar failures.
“Typically this is something that happens with age and over time but we’re trying to determine what was the cause, why did this happen so soon and hopefully when we determine we’ll be able to make a permanent repair,” said Andrea Clifford, a cabinet spokeswoman.
The joint connects slabs of the concrete deck, or roadway, and allows it to expand and contract based on the weather. It is supposed to be flush with the roadway, but it was somehow dislodged and struck by a vehicle Sunday night, Clifford said.
Crews closed three lanes of the bridge Monday morning to make a temporary fix that involved adding a piece from a joint on the shoulder, allowing traffic to pass over it smoothly, Clifford said. It’s not yet clear when a permanent repair will occur.
“We don’t have a timeline on that yet because we’re still in the investigative stages of trying to determine why the joint came out of place, is this a potential problem in other locations?” she said.
Workers also are monitoring the temporary repair installed Monday for any movement, she said.
The joint and other joints were added as part of a makeover that occurred near the end of the $2.3 billion Ohio River Bridges Project. The $22 million work on the Kennedy added a new roadway, or deck; replaced more than 3.5 million pounds of steel; and installed new stringers and beams.
The bridge was closed for months to let Walsh Construction complete the project meant to extend the life of the Kennedy by at least 35 years. The bridge opened in 1963.
Before that work, Kentucky data show, the state had spent more than $79 million since 2006 on various bridge repairs, cleaning and painting, including a project in 2012 that replaced expansion joints.
Clifford said the Kennedy remains safe for drivers and hasn’t suffered any structural damage.