Will bridges without tolls need more inspections due to traffic increase?


by Chelsea Rabideau


Posted on September 25, 2013 at 11:56 PM

Updated Thursday, Sep 26 at 12:01 AM

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WHAS11) – Two bridges in Louisville will not have tolls as part of the Ohio River Bridges Project. But, they will get one thing for sure; a drastic increase in traffic. With the increase, we wanted to know if the bridges will get more scrutiny.

The Clark Memorial Bridge is expected to see more than 5,000 more vehicles everyday by 2018. Traffic on the Sherman Minton is expected to increase by more than 32,000 vehicles per day. Chuck Wolfe with the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet explained that all of the bridges are routinely evaluated to determine how often they need inspection. He said it’s too soon to tell how the increase in traffic will change the inspection schedule.

This is becoming more of a concern after another bridge, one in Wisconsin, made headlines. An entire segment of a bridge in Green Bay settled into the ground, creating a huge dip and closing down the road. Bridges around the country are getting older and, according to one study, 1 in 9 bridges are “structurally deficient.”

So, how do we know our bridges are safe? We took that question to the KYTC.

“Well, you know, we’re out there every two years, at least,” explained Andrea Clifford, spokesperson for KYTC. “Sometimes more often to ensure that these bridges are safe for the motoring public. And, we’re doing all within our power to make sure that we can keep people moving.”

Clifford said some bridges, like the ones that cross the Ohio River, get even more attention.

“For example, the Kennedy Bridge gets inspected annually through a walk through inspection with officials from Indiana Department of Transportation and the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet,” she said.

In a report published by a grassroots coalition, Transportation for America, Kentucky has more than 1,200 structurally deficient bridges. Indiana has over 2,000.

“If we thought that the bridge was unsafe for the motoring public, we would either, one, lower the weight limit or, two, close the bridge. Those are the steps we would take to make sure that it’s safe for the motoring public,” Clifford explained.

The $2.6 billion Ohio River Bridges Project will, in part, fix the Kennedy Bridge and revamp Spaghetti Junction…two main areas of concern around Louisville.

Transportation for America has posted an interactive map on its website showing the condition of bridges around the country.