Plans to paint the KY 2262/IN Route 161 Ohio River Bridge – the "Blue Bridge" in Owensboro – are on track for a scheduled Feb. 22nd bidding.
Kentucky Transportation Cabinet (KYTC) engineers have received inquiries from about a dozen contractors who have expressed an interest in painting the Owensboro landmark. Once bids are received, engineers will take about a week to review the winning bid to ensure it meets all technical requirements before a contract is awarded.
According to KYTC District 2 Chief District Engineer Kevin McClearn, the contractor should be able to complete most of the cleaning and painting work on the approaches by working underneath the bridge structure with minimal lane restrictions. However, cleaning and painting of the main truss spans can be accomplished much quicker if the bridge is completely closed during that phase of the work.
"We narrowed numerous design parameters down to a couple of basic choices. We could go with limited one-lane traffic for two construction seasons, or we could close the bridge to all traffic to allow the contractor to complete the work on the main truss in only one season," McClearn said. "We discussed the full closure option with Owensboro and Daviess County officials, and although neither choice is perfect, we have their support."
McClearn noted the one-season full closure decision was aided by the fact that with one-lane closure, traffic on the bridge would be one-way for the duration of the project and no trucks or farm equipment would be allowed for two full construction seasons.
During remarks to the Owensboro Chamber of Commerce Rooster Booster Breakfast on Thursday morning, McClearn acknowledged that the painting project will create some hardships for businesses that depend on the river crossing and daily commuters who will face a detour via the US 231 Natcher Bridge.
"Closing the Blue Bridge adds a little less than 10 miles to a commute from Reo, Indiana, to downtown Owensboro. From our conversations with various stakeholders, the conclusion was that enduring that detour for one season was preferable to enduring delays created by extended one lane traffic flow over two seasons to accommodate the work," McClearn said.
Current plans call for the Blue Bridge to close for the painting project after May 12th, allowing it to be fully open during Owensboro's International Bar-B-Que Festival. It would be expected to reopen to traffic by November 15th in time for Thanksgiving and Christmas holiday traffic.
The request for bids is being structured to ensure timely completion. The contractor will face a $4,000 per day fine for keeping the bridge closed beyond the November 15th date.
After the letting, and before the Bar-B-QueFestival, periodic overnight closures will be allowed during the week to configure rigging and position equipment to ensure that work begins quickly once the contractor is given full control of the structure. McClearn noted that sufficient notice will be given to the public prior to any overnight closures leading up to the May 12 full closure.
"Once the Blue Bridge is closed for this work, it will remain closed until painting of the main truss is complete," McClearn said. "The contractor will be allowed more overnight closures and limited lane restrictions for painting of the approach spans during the 2014 construction season, and the completion of the entire project is projected to be November 15, 2014."
Temperature requirements would likely prohibit painting work beyond November 15th. Work dates for the 2014 construction season will be from April 1st to November 15th.
The project is jointly funded by Kentucky and Indiana. The Blue Bridge was originally scheduled for painting in 2017. Following the re-development of Owensboro's riverfront, local lawmakers moved funding for new paint up in the Kentucky road plan. The Indiana Department of Transportation agreed to advance their share of the funding to put the project on track for the 2013 construction season.
The painting project will affect commuters and about 30 businesses that depend on bridge traffic. Many of the businesses affected by the 6-month closure are along IN 161 between the bridge and Indiana 66 at Reo, Indiana. The Blue Bridge was also closed during the 2011 construction season for a partial rehab of the bridge deck for a period of 3 months.
The Blue Bridge, also known as the Glover Cary Bridge, connects KY 2262 and Indiana Route 161.
Approximately 8,500 vehicles cross the Blue Bridge between Kentucky and Indiana in an average day. The bridge opened to traffic in September 1940 as a toll bridge. Tolls were discontinued in 1954. The Blue Bridge is located at Ohio River navigation mile point 756.3 in downtown Owensboro.
Transportation officials scheduled to reveal Blue Bridge plans
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