PADUCAH, Ky. — The Kentucky Transportation Cabinet reports a contractor is making good progress on maintenance and repair items on the U.S. 45 Ohio River “Brookport” Bridge in Paducah. With the maintenance and repair project just past the halfway point, a substantial number of items are completed.
KYTC District 1 Chief Engineer Kyle Poat noted that, in spite of some delays due to weather and floodwaters on the Ohio River, the project remains on track for the bridge to reopen in early November – weather permitting.
“Our engineers have continued to work closely with the contractor to work through items on the maintenance and repair list,” Poat said. “The contractor has completed repairs to the metal-grated decking, several bridge bearings, and has completed concrete work on pier 13. Even with the rain and high water hampering progress at times, we believe we are well ahead of schedule at this point and may be able to reopen the bridge ahead of the November target date.”
Among the main remaining maintenance items is a carbon-fiber wrap to further protect and strengthen new concrete on the piers that were repaired.
During the extended closure of the bridge, Poat said the KYTC District 1 bridge engineering staff continues to work on ways to protect the bridge from overweight trucks.
“The bridge is restricted to vehicles no more than 8 ft. wide which primarily limits semi-truck traffic and all but a few commercial trucks,” Poat noted. “Lowering the weight limit once the bridge reopens is something we are evaluating in an effort to extend the life of the bridge.”
KYTC engineers are speaking with area law enforcement agencies about increasing enforcement efforts for restrictions already on the bridge and any restrictions that may be added.
The 90-year old structure was initially closed to vehicles on May 8 when illegal truck traffic created safety issues for workers. The closure was extended when the contractor and inspectors determined that some additional maintenance items were needed, including concrete on three additional piers and a number of steel repair items.
“We’re pleased with the progress at this point,” Poat said. “We realize that this extended closure for maintenance and repairs has been an inconvenience for our commuters and businesses at each end of the bridge. However, the repairs are necessary to maintain the viability of this river crossing for the long term.”
Poat said, at this time, there is no process in place to replace the U.S. 45 Ohio River “Brookport” Bridge. However, the existing bridge will continue to be maintained to current safety standards.
Motorists who normally travel the U.S. 45 Ohio River “Brookport” Bridge between Kentucky and Illinois are using a detour via the Interstate 24 Ohio River Bridge.
Judy C. Harp Company, Inc., is the prime contractor on the original $183,902 bridge maintenance and repair project.
The 10-span structure, also known as the Irvin Cobb Bridge, normally carries approximately 5,000 vehicles across the Ohio River each day between Paducah, Ky., and Brookport, Ill.
Timely traffic advisories for the 12 counties of KYTC Highway District 1 are available by going to www.facebook.com/kytcdistrict1.