With two decks and six total lanes of traffic, the Sherman Minton Bridge is responsible for safely carrying 90,000 cars, trucks and trailers over the Ohio River every day. Now, a rehabilitation project that will cost more than $90 million will shut down the busy thoroughfare, at least partially depending on what transportation leaders decide to do.
The Sherman Minton Renewal Project team said the rehabilitation project will add up to 30 years of service life to the bridge. It will include replacing or refurbishing the bridge decks, rehabbing or replacing the structural steel elements and hander cables, adding new lighting, repairing the drainage system. Crews will also give the bridge a new paint job.
The project team and transportation officials in Indiana and Kentucky have held two open houses, one in Louisville Tuesday and one in New Albany Thursday, to get the community's feedback. The team is presenting the public with six options for the renovation project, which range from a full shutdown that would take as little as 15 months to shutting down a few lanes at a time that could push the project timeline to more than three years.
Many people attending the meeting, like Linda Minton who lives in Clark County but works in Floyd County, said they oppose a complete shutdown.
"I work at the hospital," she said. "I have to worry about ambulances, the ability to get my patients to a trauma center."
On the other side of the river, the sentiment is the same. Richard Logsdon, a lifelong resident of West Louisville who works in Southern Indiana, said he uses the bridge as many as six to seven times a week, and it's not just for work.
"Honestly a lot of folks on the West End frequent more of the businesses in Southern Indiana than they do even out maybe Preston, Dixie Highway, just because the convenience of the bridge," he said.
"I know when we had the closing before, small businesses in New Albany suffered greatly," Minton said.
The last time the bridge completely closed was back in 2011, known by locals as "Shermageddon." After crews discovered cracks in the bridge, then Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels ordered the bridge closed in September 2011. The bridge finally reopened in February the following year, but many still remember those few months with less than fond memories.
"If you missed the window, the traffic window, it could be a two-hour drive," Minton said.
"And if you hit traffic, it was awful."
"You'd sit 20 to 30 minutes for a commute that would normally take you maybe five minutes. You're just sitting there, just a huge waste of time," Logsdon said. "It was terrible."
The Sherman Minton Renewal project team is hoping to have a recommendation for the renovation approach this fall. Construction is expected to begin in early 2021.
More information on the renewal project, click here.