A contractor for the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet has moved the start date for repairs on the U.S. 51 Ohio River Bridge between Wickliffe, KY, and Cairo, IL, to sometime after July 15.
KYTC says the project will require a seven-foot maximum load width which will exclude all but passenger vehicles from the river crossing for about 50 to 60 days.
Also known as the Cairo Bridge, the U.S. 51 Ohio River Bridge carries U.S. 60 and U.S. 62 between Kentucky and Illinois. Commercial trucks make up about 35 percent of the 5,500 vehicles that cross the U.S. 51 Ohio River each day, making it a key transportation link for residents of Kentucky, Illinois, and Missouri.
The Kentucky Transportation Cabinet says they have provided regular updates on the approaching restrictions so truckers and suppliers who depend on the bridge can fully prepare for the coming project which will require trucks and other larger vehicles to take and alternate route.
"The bridge work zone will have a strictly enforced seven-foot maximum load width. That will limit the bridge to passenger vehicles and standard pickup trucks only," said KYTC District 1 Spokesman Keith Todd said. "Restrictions in the work zone may also exclude vehicles pulling trailers."
Todd said the contractor will provide about a one week advance notice of a specific start date for the restrictions, but sometime after July 15th would be the earliest work could start.
The project includes bridge deck stringer repairs, as well as replacement of seven joints on the bridge decking. The work zone will require a barrier wall that will severely restrict traffic flow on the bridge.
Excluding commercial trucks, commercial bus traffic, and other large vehicles such as RV's from the bridge work zone turns a six-mile trip from Wickliffe to Cairo into about an 80-mile detour via the I-24 Ohio River Bridge at Paducah.
Todd noted that by adjusting their route of travel farther out from the bridge, most larger vehicles can minimize their detour distances.
"We want area manufacturing facilities and farmers who regularly ship materials and crops across the bridge to be aware of the approaching work so they can plan ahead to adapt to the coming traffic restriction," Todd said. "This will impact tour bus traffic, people pulling boats, and any number of other vehicles that will be prohibited from traveling through this work zone width restriction."
By maintaining passenger vehicle traffic, commuters who travel between Kentucky, Illinois and Missouri will still be able to get to and from work. The bridge will be restricted to one lane traffic and a strict seven-foot load width due to equipment that will be needed on the bridge deck to accomplish the work.
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