Transportation agencies seek public input on replacement plans for Ohio River ‘Cairo’ Bridge

Ohio River Cairo Bridge
The existing U.S. 51 Ohio River “Cairo” Bridge linking Kentucky and Illinois is undergoing extensive maintenance and repair. (Courtesy: Kentucky Transportation Cabinet)

PADUCAH, Ky. — As repairs and maintenance work continue on the existing U.S. 51 Ohio River “Cairo” Bridge linking Wickliffe, Kentucky, and Cairo, Illinois, the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet (KYTC) and the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) are asking public input on the agencies’ plans to construct a replacement for the structure. Construction on a new bridge is expected to start in five to 10 years.

Chris Kuntz, KYTC project manager, explained that the COVID-19 pandemic has limited the team’s ability to have in-person meetings to discuss the future of the bridge.

“Public meetings like we’ve had in the past are simply not possible at this time, so we are moving the updated information we have to share online,” Kuntz said. “We’ve developed displays similar to what we would share at a meeting and made them available through the project website. Interested citizens will have a 15-day window to review the online displays, as well as offer input and comments through the survey at the end.”

Anyone interested in the project can visit the U.S. 51 Bridge Replacement project website to review online displays. Between 8 a.m. Central time Oct. 16 and 5 p.m. Central time Oct. 30, the public can visit the website and offer input through a survey. Responses from the public-review survey will become a part of the official record for the Project. The information and survey are also available at the public libraries in Wickliffe and Cairo.

The purpose of the U.S. 51 Bridge Replacement project is to improve cross-river mobility by addressing the functional limitations of the existing bridge and approach spans, according to a statement from KYTC. Ensuring the public is aware of the phases of this proposed work, the various alternatives, and providing opportunities for the public to become informed, and involved, is critical as project planning progresses. It is also important for the project team to acknowledge stakeholder input and feedback to gain an understanding of project impact on nearby communities and the region.

“A final decision on the project will be made in collaboration with the Federal Highway Administration, KYTC and IDOT. Input from coordinating cooperating agencies, Section 106 consulting parties, the Citizens Advisory/Environmental Justice Group and the general public will be part of that decision-making process,” Kuntz said.

Once compiled, the meeting record will be available for review and copying after an Open Records Request is submitted and approved. All Open Record Requests must be submitted to the Office of Legal Services, Transportation Cabinet Office Building, 200 Mero Street, Frankfort, KY 40622.

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