LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – The Sherman Minton Bridge would close entirely for nine straight days and up to three weekends per year while it’s being renovated, under a traffic plan the Indiana Department of Transportation released Thursday.
The recommended plan provides the first glimpse into how Indiana officials intend to maintain traffic on the Interstate 64 span between Louisville and New Albany after work begins in 2021. The construction is expected to take about 2 1/3 years.
Project officials estimate that their approach would result in a full closure of the bridge during 54 days of an anticipated 843 total days of work, or just over 6% of the time.
Specifically, it calls for:
-One lane of I-64 West and one lane of I-64 East to close during the construction, leaving two lanes open – although the location of those lanes will occasionally change.
-For 180 nights per year, two eastbound and westbound lanes and access ramps would close from 9 p.m. to 4 a.m. and from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. Traffic would use a single lane in each direction during those closures.
-Work will be suspended during holidays and during Thunder Over Louisville, part of Kentucky Derby Week and the Harvest Homecoming Festival.
“The community felt the impacts of the emergency shutdown in 2011 and underscored just how important the need is for a construction and traffic maintenance solution that will not repeat that sudden, long closure,” Mary Jo Hamman, project manager for the Sherman Minton Renewal, said in a statement.
Planners took into account the importance of "community cohesion" between Louisville and New Albany in crafting a traffic plan, according to the 170-page document prepared for the Federal Highway Administration. The plan is a hybrid of several of the six originally made public, including features from the most well-received choice of the public.
When detours are needed, Indiana traffic would be diverted to the RiverLink I-65 toll bridges, or the Lewis and Clark Bridge upriver near Utica, Ind., via I-265. Local New Albany traffic would use a State Street detour when Spring Street access ramps are closed.
In Kentucky, traffic headed to Indiana would be diverted to the RiverLink I-65 bridges, while drivers going to western Louisville would use local streets.
Public comments on the traffic plan are being accepted until August 14 on the project’s website.
The project is meant to give the 57-year-old interstate bridge an extra three decades, replacing its roadways, repairing drains and adding lights and paint.
In Kentucky, new surfaces would be added to roads leading to the bridge. In Indiana, workers would add asphalt to I-64 ramps in New Albany and resurface the lanes just west of the bridge. Other elevated sections, including the intersection of I-265 and I-64, would also get reinforced roadways.
The price tag is estimated at around $92 million, with Kentucky and Indiana sharing the cost.
Indiana expects to award a contract this fall.
This story will be updated.
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