LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – Warning of “negative effects on community businesses,” a Southern Indiana business and economic development group wants the Sherman Minton Bridge to stay open during its massive renovation.
One Southern Indiana, the chamber of commerce for Floyd and Clark counties, made the request in a July 16 letter to the Indiana Department of Transportation.
In particular, it cites the potential impact on prominent local companies and institutions, including Horseshoe Casino in Elizabeth; New Albany’s Baptist Floyd Hospital; Ford Motor Co. in Louisville; Indiana University Southeast and Ivy Tech in Sellersburg.
As long as public safety and fiscal responsibility aren’t compromised, One Southern Indiana says it “strongly support(s)” keeping the bridge open in some capacity during the work set to start in early 2021.
“As you will see, the Sherman Minton Bridge is an economic lifeline for many of our businesses, their employees and their customers,” Bryan Wickens, One Southern Indiana’s advisory council chair wrote in the letter co-signed by president and CEO Wendy Dant Chesser.
“A full closure will have an immensely negative effect on these businesses and their customers and employees.”
Indiana is overseeing the project known as the “Sherman Minton Renewal,” which would replace both roadways of the double-decker Interstate 64 bridge between Louisville and New Albany and resurface roads in Floyd County.
Officials are weighing six traffic options for the work, including a complete shutdown that could last for 15 to 23 months. A construction approach is expected later this fall or in early 2020.
Andrea Brady, a project spokeswoman, said officials are noting patterns to the comments that have been submitted. If more than one group expresses the same opinion, "certainly that's going to weigh into the overall analysis," she said.
A resolution opposing the bridge’s full closure is set to be introduced at Thursday’s meeting of the New Albany City Council. The resolution cites the One Southern Indiana letter, which the organization provided to WDRB News.
One Southern Indiana officials say they understand the need for the Minton work. But however it’s done, it will “have a negative economic effect on our businesses and services to regional residents,” they wrote.
For instance, about 860 workers at Ford’s Louisville auto plants cross the Sherman Minton each day, while roughly 60 trucks use the bridge daily, according to chamber data.
About 31 percent of Horseshoe’s workforce travel the bridge to get to work, while its business dropped 15 percent when the Minton closed in 2011 for emergency repairs.