The US 51 Ohio River “Cairo” Bridge will close at 6:00 p.m. CST due to floodwaters on the Kentucky approach levee at the 7 mile marker. The closure between Wickliffe, Ky., and Cairo, Ill., severs a critical transportation corridor used by cross-country truckers, as well as local commuters.
The Ohio River gauge at Cairo was showing 53.5 feet this afternoon with a crest of 55 feet expected Saturday morning. Engineers are closing the bridge due to safety concerns about the depth of water on the roadway and recurring issues with drift floating into travel lanes.
Kentucky Transportation Cabinet personnel will be flagging one lane traffic with alternating flow starting around 3 p.m. to help maintain the important highway connection as long as possible. However, US 51 will close at the site promptly at 6 p.m. CST.
Closing the crossing due to floodwaters at the Kentucky end of the bridge creates about an 80-mile detour through Southern Illinois to get from Cairo to Wickliffe, a trip that is normally about eight miles. Based on the river forecast, the US 51 Ohio River “Cairo” Bridge is likely to remain closed for about a week—longer if the flood crest is revised upward.
The Kentucky Transportation Cabinet will attempt to provide timely notice when floodwaters drop and the bridge can be reopened to traffic.
The US 51 Ohio River “Cairo” Bridge carries US 51, US 60 and US 62 across the river between Kentucky and Illinois. It also connects to the nearby US 60/US 62 Mississippi River Bridge between Illinois and Missouri, providing a critical commerce link between the 3 states.
Approximately 4,700 vehicles cross the US 51 Ohio River “Cairo” Bridge in an average day.