70-day project to repair bridge between Kentucky and Illinois to start mid-June
PADUCAH, Ky. (April 22, 2013) — The Kentucky Transportation Cabinet (KYTC) is reviewing bids this week for a planned project that will impact truck traffic on the U.S. 51 Ohio River Bridge between Wickliffe, Ky., and Cairo, Ill., also known as th3e Cairo Bridge. Trucks will be rerouted for approximately 70 days beginning in June.
[pullquote_left]The 76-year-old structure is officially termed “functionally obsolete” because it does not meet current traffic standards.[/pullquote_left]
“We’re reviewing bids this week for repairs on bridge deck stringers and replacement of seven joints on the bridge decking,” said KYTC District 1 Chief Engineer Jim LeFevre. “This bridge maintenance project will require trucks to be excluding from the bridge during the work starting sometime after June 10.”
Excluding trucks from the bridge work zone turns a six-mile trip from Wickliffe to Cairo into a 80-mile detour.
“We recognize this is going to be a major inconvenience for area shippers. However, this maintenance work is required to maintain the long-term viability and reliability of this important river crossing,” LeFevre said. “We want to give area farmers and industries as much notice as possible so that they may begin planning their route adjustments.”
LeFevre noted that by maintaining passenger vehicle traffic, commuters who travel between Kentucky, Illinois and Missouri will still be able to get to and from work. While the project is scheduled for 70 working days, he said engineers are optimistic it can be completed more quickly if the weather cooperates.
Once a winning bid is selected, the contractor will meet with KYTC engineers to set a project schedule with a specific start date sometime after June 10.
The Cairo Bridge over the Ohio River also carries U.S. 60 and U.S. 62 between Kentucky and Illinois. It connects with the U.S. 60/U.S. 62 Mississippi River Bridge, which carries traffic between Illinois and Missouri. Commercial trucks make up about 35 percent of the 5,500 vehicles that cross the Ohio River there each day, making it a key transportation link between the three states.
The structure was constructed by the Cairo Bridge Commission as a toll facility and opened to traffic on Nov. 11, 1936. Tolls were removed from the crossing on Nov. 11, 1948, when the highway departments of Kentucky and Illinois assumed responsibility for maintenance on the bridge.
The 76-year-old structure is officially termed “functionally obsolete” because it does not meet current traffic standards. The driving width of the Cairo Bridge deck is less than 23-feet and it carries a high percentage of commercial truck traffic. The nearest alternate upstream river crossing is the Interstate 24 Ohio River Bridge at Paducah, Ky., which requires a nearly two-hour detour. The nearest crossings downstream are the Dorena-Hickman Ferry, and the I-155 Mississippi River Bridge between Dyersburg, Tenn., and Caruthersville, Mo.