70-day maintenance/repair project to start in Mid-June
PADUCAH, Ky. (April 24, 2013) – The Kentucky Transportation Cabinet (KYTC) is receiving bids this week for a planned project that will affect truck traffic on the busy U.S. 51 Ohio River Bridge between Wickliffe, KY, and Cairo, IL. Trucks will be rerouted for approximately 70 days beginning in June.
“We’re seeking 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 90-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 work is scheduled for 70 working-days, LeFevre says his engineers are optimistic it can be completed more quickly than that if the weather cooperates.
Once bids for the work are received later this week and a winning bid is selected, the contractor will meet with KYTC engineers to set a project schedule.
The U.S. 51 Ohio River Bridge 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 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 November 11, 1936. Tolls were removed from the crossing on November 11, 1948, when the highway departments of Kentucky and Illinois assumed responsibility for maintenance on the bridge.