Kennedy Bridge to reopen next week; Traffic woes continue with I-71, I-264 project announcement

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by Gene Kang

WHAS11.com

Posted on July 17, 2012 at 3:43 PM

Updated Tuesday, Jul 17 at 7:41 PM

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WHAS11) -- Two new highway construction projects are about to get underway. The Kennedy problems continue and work on the Watterson and I-65 will make it even harder to get around the city.

Things will be turned around this weekend on I-65. Southbound lanes will be shut down between the Chestnut Street exit and the Watterson.

But that’s just the beginning for drivers.

"Man just traffic is a nightmare especially in the morning around 71," said Frankie Blackwell with Whitehouse Commercial and Residential Painting.

"Everything is back to back. Instead of doing one thing at a time, they're congesting things like they're doing," said driver Lesley Francis.

You can expect gridlock traffic no matter where you drive. A new project will hit I-71 and the Watterson Expressway that goes through December 15.

Lane closures are expected later this week from 9 p.m.-5 a.m. I-264 will expand from two to three lanes in both directions between US 42 and I-71 once complete.

A grand total of 11 construction projects are underway right now on I-65, I-64, I-265, I-264, Brownsboro Road and Chamberlain Lane. That’s not all.

Southbound lanes will close this weekend on I-65 between Chestnut and the Watterson.       

That starts Friday at 7 p.m. through 5 a.m. Monday.

WHAS 11 News asked the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet why all the projects are at nearly the same time this summer? Considering both the Kennedy repairs and I-65 project are 100% federally funded.

"When those funding dollars are available we need to go ahead and move forward with them because if we don't those dollars may get moved to other parts of the State," said Andrea Clifford with the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet.

They are ultimately in charge of fixing corroded steel on the Indiana approach are responsible for reporting a time line.

According to the news release the interchange improvements include:

  • I-264 (Watterson Expressway) will be widened from two lanes to three lanes in both directions between US 42 and I-71.
  • The entrance ramp from eastbound I-264 to northbound I-71 will be extended to the Lime Kiln Lane overpass in order to provide more merge distance for motorists entering I-71. 
  • A deceleration lane will be constructed on southbound I-71 for motorists exiting onto westbound I-264, which will provide motorists space to slow down prior to the exit onto the Watterson Expressway.
  • A new asphalt surface will be paved on I-264 between US 42 and I-71 and on I-71 between the Lime Kiln Lane overpass and I-264.

MAC Construction and Excavating was awarded the contract for this project in the amount of $3.9 million.  The work is scheduled for completion by December 15.

 

The following press release is from INDOT:

I-65 Kennedy Approach Repairs Closes Lanes Thru Late Next Week
I-64 Westbound/I-71 Southbound Ramp to I-65 Northbound Remains Closed

JEFFERSONVILLE, Ind. - Repairs to the Indiana approach of the I-65 John F. Kennedy Memorial Bridge are expected to require lane closures through the end of next week. Once northbound traffic is shifted to the east side of the bridge at the end of next week, contractors will then replace median concrete barrier that was removed for traffic crossovers.

Preliminary timeframes previously provided by bridge repair engineers underestimated the amount of time that Indiana approach repairs would require lane closures. A more specific date for shifting northbound traffic back to the east side of the bridge will be provided early next week.

Contractors have installed temporary supports underneath the Indiana bridge approach and removed corroded sections of steel. Engineers have completed approved designs of the repairs and some of the new steel pieces needed are already on site. Steel installation could begin as early as overnight tonight.

The Kennedy Bridge will remain open to traffic as repairs are made. The remaining concrete driving surface will be poured at the north end of the bridge, allowing northbound traffic to be shifted back to the east side of the bridge at the end of next week. Once northbound traffic is shifted, lane closures will allow contractors to replace median concrete barrier that was removed for traffic crossovers. Additional approach repairs will continue to take place underneath the bridge.

The I-65 bridge over the Ohio River is currently restricted to one lane for northbound and two lanes for southbound traffic. Vehicles wider than 9 feet are restricted from traveling through the work zone. Ramps from westbound I-64 and southbound I-71 to northbound I-65 and the northbound I-65 Exit 0 to Downtown Jeffersonville are expected to reopen at the end of next week. Westbound I-64 and southbound I-71 traffic should follow the signed detour via I-264.

The Kentucky Transportation Cabinet (KYTC) is repairing and repaving the Kennedy Bridge and four I-65 ramp bridges, and the Indiana Department of Transportation (INDOT) is sharing in the costs. As expansion joints were removed where the Indiana approach abuts the I-65 Bridge, crews discovered more corrosion underneath than was anticipated. The Indiana Department of Transportation (INDOT) is responsible for maintenance of the Indiana approach, and is performing the additional approach repairs through the KYTC contract.

Ramps from westbound I-64 and southbound I-71 to northbound I-65 and the northbound I-65 Exit 0 to Downtown Jeffersonville as shown in red on the attached color-coded map are currently closed. The following ramps listed below as shown in yellow on the attached map will remain closed for the duration of the project:

·    The exit ramp from eastbound I-64 to northbound I-65 in Kentucky
·    The exit ramp from southbound I-65 to Market Street in Indiana
·    The entrance ramp from Court Avenue to southbound I-65 in Indiana

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