Repairs to East End tunnel close to complete, spokesman says

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – After months of work, the repairs to an eastern Jefferson County highway tunnel may be coming to a close.

Crews are expected to repair leaks to pieces of the fire protection system next week, said Dan Hartlage, spokesman for WVB East End Partners, whose contractor Walsh-Vinci Construction is overseeing the repairs.

After that, Hartlage said, the tunnel just south of the Lewis and Clark Bridge could be open to all traffic within about a week. Shipments of hazardous materials have been banned from the tunnel since mid-January following damage to the sprinkler system.

The Kentucky Transportation Cabinet has blamed the damage on a water pump that shut down during a false alarm in the tunnel, subsequently resulting in frozen water pipes that burst. The 1,700-foot-long twin tunnel is the longest of two tunnels in Jefferson County.

With the eastern toll bridge not an option, trucks carrying hazardous materials have been forced to use the Interstate 65 bridges downtown or the I-64 Sherman Minton Bridge between Louisville and New Albany, Ind.

Walsh-Vinci Construction built the eastern part of the Ohio River Bridges Project for the joint venture hired by Indiana. Kentucky, however, is in charge of overseeing the tunnel.

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