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U.S. 51 Ohio River Bridge work to restrict traffic starting July 29

The work zone restriction will prohibit trucks, buses, motor homes and vehicles pulling trailers from crossing the bridge for approximately 50 days.

The Trucker News Services

7/29/2013

A contractor for the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet plans to restrict traffic on the US 51 Ohio River Bridge starting promptly at 9:00 a.m., CDT, on Monday, July 29, 2013. 

The work zone with a 7 ft. maximum vehicle width is required to allow repair work on deck stringers, replacement of 10 joints, and deck patching on the bridge between Wickliffe, Ky., and Cairo, Il.

The work zone restriction will prohibit trucks, buses, motor homes and vehicles pulling trailers from crossing the bridge for approximately 50 days.

In addition to the strictly enforced 7-foot maximum vehicle width, the turn radius on a curve at the Kentucky end of the bridge will prohibit vehicles more than 19-feet long, as well as dual wheeled vehicles and vehicles pulling trailers. This will essentially limit the bridge to passenger vehicles and light truck traffic only until the work is completed.

The U.S. 51 Ohio River Bridge also carries U.S. 60 and U.S. 62 between Kentucky and Illinois.  It immediately connects with the U.S. 60/U.S. 62 Mississippi River Bridge which carries traffic between Illinois and Missouri.  Commercial trucks make up about 35 percent of the 5,500 vehicles that cross the Ohio River at the site each day, making it a key transportation link between the three states.

The bridge work zone restriction turns a six-mile trip from Wickliffe, Ky., to Cairo, Ill., into an 80-mile detour for restricted traffic.  However, highway officials say making travel route adjustments before they arrive at the bridge will allow most trucks, motor homes, and travel buses to reduce the length of their detour.

While there will be no official marked detour, the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDot) has offered a suggested detour for legal loads via Illinois Route 37 North, then east on Illinois Route 169 to connect with U.S. 45 South to Interstate 24 into Kentucky.

 Kentucky Transportation Cabinet engineers noted that by maintaining the 7-foot load width, daily commuters driving passenger vehicles to travel between Kentucky, Illinois and Missouri will still be able to cross the bridge to and from work.  However, even vehicles that can fit through the work zone restrictions are likely to face significant delays due to alternating traffic flow that will be controlled by a manually operated temporary traffic signal.

Key Elements of the Work Zone include:

         7-foot maximum load width

         19-foot maximum vehicle length

         No dual-wheeled vehicles

         No trailers of any size

         Barrier walls for worker safety

         24-hour police presence with strict work zone enforcement

Due to work requirements on the bridge, vehicles that block the bridge or hit the barrier wall due to being more than 7 ft. wide will be subject to citations with a $245 fine or higher.

The work zone will go up promptly at 9 a.m., CDT, July 29th and is expected to remain in place until about Sept. 14th.

American Contracting is the prime contractor on this $766,000 highway improvement project.

The U.S. 51 Ohio River Bridge was constructed by the Cairo Bridge Commission as a toll crossing and opened to traffic Nov. 11, 1936.  Tolls were removed from the structure on Nov. 11, 1948, when the highway agencies of Kentucky and Illinois assumed responsibility for maintenance on the bridge.

The Trucker staff can be reached to comment on this article at editor@thetrucker.com.

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