OWENSBORO, Ky. (Nov. 7, 2013) – The KY 2262/IN Route 161 Ohio River Bridge – the “Blue Bridge” -- in downtown Owensboro will remain closed beyond the expected Nov. 15 opening date. Kentucky Transportation Cabinet District 2 Chief Engineer Kevin McClearn said pushing back the opening a few weeks may disappoint some commuters, but it comes with an upside.
“By allowing our contractor to continue painting work an extra few weeks now, we are confident little or no additional traffic disruptions will be required next year,” McClearn said.
The contractor brought in extra crews this fall in an attempt to complete the 2-year project in one construction season. Over the last few months, KYTC inspectors had asked for an extra $150,000 in needed repairs to a number of beams and joints. They also ordered additional concrete repairs on older sections of the bridge deck. Even with that extra work, the contractor is running about 6-months ahead of schedule, likely eliminating the need for lane restrictions in 2014.
“We’re extremely pleased with the progress the contractor has made,” McClearn said. “Our contractor maintained an aggressive schedule and brought in extra personnel and equipment over the last two months. By allowing the contractor a few more weeks to work now, we are confident we can eliminate the need for restrictions next year.”
McClearn noted that work is now focused on inspecting the paint and finishing out required touch-up work on the main truss. The contractor can then complete any additional touch-up work on the approach spans from underneath with minimal or no traffic disruptions.
“We think giving the contractor a few more weeks now, as long as temperatures are adequate to allow painting, we will virtually eliminate the need for restrictions on the bridge next year,” McClearn added. “We just need a few weeks of warm temperatures and no rain.”
The bridge has been closed for painting since May 13.
“We appreciate the patience of our commuters who normally cross the Blue Bridge each day,” McClearn said.
Spartan Contracting, LLC, of Ohio, is the prime contractor on the $10.07 million painting project.
Transportation Cabinet District 2 Public Information Officer Keith Todd emphasized that determining a date when the bridge will be able to open is going to be highly dependent on the weather and temperatures over the next couple of weeks.
The project is jointly funded by Kentucky and Indiana. Originally scheduled for painting in 2017, local lawmakers advanced funding for the painting project in the Kentucky road plan. The Indiana Department of Transportation (INDot) agreed to expedite its share of the funding to put the project on track for the 2013-2014 construction seasons.
The Blue Bridge, at Ohio River navigation mile point 756.3, is a 4,622-foot structure that connects KY 2262 and Indiana State Route 161 over the Ohio River at Owensboro. About 8,500 vehicles use the bridge in an average day. Trucks account for about 15 percent of that traffic. The structure opened to traffic in September 1940 as a toll bridge. The tolls were discontinued in 1954.
For regular traffic updates on the Blue Bridge and in the Owensboro area go to www.facebook.com/kytcdistrict2. You do not have to be a Facebook member to access this page.