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Relief for AM commute, delay for eastbound drivers

by Joe Arnold


Posted on July 10, 2012 at 12:55 PM

Updated Tuesday, Jul 10 at 5:41 PM

LOUISVILLE, Ky (WHAS11) -- In an effort to offer a relief valve to long traffic back-ups from Indiana into Louisville during the morning rush hour, the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet will convert the Clark Memorial Bridge into three lanes southbound, one lane northbound during the morning commute.

The transition is slated weekdays mornings from 5am Wednesday until until all three Kennedy Bridge southbound lanes are reopen, expected on July 31.

"Unfortunately, we're not able to turn the Second Street Bridge into three lanes outbound due to the roadway set up in Indiana," said Lt. John Seelye of Louisville Metro Police.

Currently, the Kennedy (I-65) Bridge is restricted to two lanes southbound and one lane northbound as crews pour new concrete for the bridge deck and replace expansion joints.

It's the latest move in a series of maneuvers by the transportation cabinet to manage traffic during repaving.

Also Tuesday, the cabinet disclosed that a key Spaghetti Junction ramp connecting I-65 Northbound to I-64 Eastbound and I-71 Northbound will remain closed at least until 5 a.m. Thursday, three days later than originally slated.

"The concrete was in worse shape than they thought," explained Andrea Clifford, spokeswoman for the Transportation Cabinet.  "And so they have had to do further concrete patching repairs before they can do that final asphalt overlay."

"Once you start taking apart a bridge deck you find more inside," Clifford said.  "We don't have x-ray vision.  We can't see what its going to be like until we actually get in there.  We're very hopeful that they can get it done by Thursday morning."

Last month, the repaving plan for the Kennedy Bridge had to be adjusted when work crews discovered that the steel reinforcement inside the concrete was closer to to the surface than expected.  As a result, Kentucky scrapped plans to lay a waterproofing asphalt over the concrete.  Instead, the driving surface will be concrete.

"The driving surface will be smoother than it was before," Clifford insisted.  "It was riddled with potholes. Overall, asphalt is a little bit smoother of a ride than concrete , but as far as life expectancy, it's still the same.  Concrete actually in many cases lasts longer than asphalt."

Clifford said Kentucky is not aware of any other problems found with the Kennedy Bridge.

Yet problems persist for drivers.

"It's backed up for at least an hour, hour and a half usually during the day, during rush hour," said Cindy Meeker of Louisville.

Meeker said the delays have complicated her job search on both sides of the river.

"You can't really get anywhere because of all the congestion and stuff," Meeker said.  "You just can't get anywhere."

As Meeker drove away from a Jeffersonville gas station, Laura Forbes drove in.  Forbes was intending to drive to Oldham County, but was re-routed to Indiana because the I-71 ramp was closed.

"I usually don't work downtown and I got on the highway to get on to 71 and had to keep coming," Forbes said.

"I think a lot of times when you have a work zone, when it goes on for several weeks, people stop looking at the signs because they think they know whats going on," Clifford said, "but in the case of this project, we have ramp closures that change on a day to day basis."

The next change is a major one.

from 7pm Friday until 5am Monday, I-65 Northbound will be closed for repaving from the Watterson to Chestnut Street downtown.

And the following weekend, Southbound I-65 will be closed in the same area.