Both lanes of 1-71 shutdown for the weekend


by Adam Walser

Posted on May 11, 2012 at 4:21 PM

Updated Friday, May 11 at 11:18 PM

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WHAS11) -- A stretch of Interstate 71 is shut down between downtown and the Watterson Expressway.

It will last through the weekend, which could cause a traffic nightmare around Kentuckiana.

The Kentucky Department of Transportation is undertaking the unusual step of shutting down all lanes of the interstate, both north and southbound, to expedite this process.

Transportation officials know this will cause some delays along the detour route, but they hope that by allowing round the clock work from Friday through 6 a.m. Monday, they can limit the number of days there will be delays.

As sunset approached, out came hundreds of workers getting ready to shut down a five-and-a-half mile section of the both sides of the interstate for the first time ever.

The final caravans of cars made their way into and out of the city. From Spaghetti Junction downtown to the Watterson construction crews won't have to worry about any traffic at all for 58 straight hours.

Bridge decking work will take place in the northbound lanes this weekend. Meanwhile, paving will take place in the southbound lanes. This section of I-71 carries about 60,000 vehicles per day.

That will mean a lot more cars in other nearby places.

"There's gonna be a lot of congestion on Highway 42. it's gonna be a mess for a while," said Scott Nevins.

"It's a mess. The whole city's a mess," said Albert Hartlage.

The project was expected to already be completed, but the Sherman Minton Bridge shutdown delayed repairs and allowed conditions on I-71 to grow even worse.

"It's a total nightmare. It beats you to death. Motorcycles are not a good idea right now," said Nevins.

While drivers can expect plenty of traffic when taking alternate routes north and south for a few days, those who rely on I-71 say it's worth it.

"They've got to fix it sometime. so we've got to take the good with the bad, I guess," said Hartlage.

While there won't be another shutdown of the entire stretch of I-71, both north and southbound will be reduced to one lane until May 26.

Then both northbound lanes will be closed for repaving from June 1-4.