Kennedy Bridge expansion joint

Broken expansion joint, Kennedy Bridge. (Courtesy: Kentucky Transportation Cabinet)

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – Three lanes on the Kennedy Bridge will remain closed for an unknown period as Kentucky waits on “custom bolts” needed to repair a damaged roadway joint.

The state Transportation Cabinet announced June 7 that the lanes on the southbound Interstate 65 span were closing to fix the expansion joint, which connects slabs of the concrete deck and allows it to expand and contract based on the weather.

That came after inspectors found that 17-inch-long bolts holding down the joint were “damaged beyond use” and not fit for traffic until the assembly can be secured with the new bolts, said Shelli Venable, spokeswoman for the cabinet’s Louisville district.

Venable said the lanes will stay closed because vehicles could be damaged by crossing over the joint, but the bridge’s structural integrity isn’t affected. The same joint was repaired in 2019; in 2018, crews also made emergency repairs to expansion joints in the same area on the bridge.

There is no timeframe for the bolts to be manufactured and delivered, Venable said.

The wait is due to “material and staffing shortages impacting the construction industry,” she said. “When the high-strength, pre-tension steel bolts arrive, we have plans in place to immediately mobilize our crew to complete the specialized repair.”

The Kennedy Bridge is one of three toll bridges in the Louisville area in the RiverLink system. It underwent a $22 million rehabilitation as part of the $2.3 billion Ohio River Bridges Project that was complete in 2016. That work included adding a new roadway and replacing the span’s expansion joints.

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