"I thought it said the lane would be closed five months. It is now into the seventh month and there is no visible sign of the closed lane reopening," said Charles M. Whitt of Pinson Ridge, South Shore, Ky. "How about some investigation to see what the problem is?"
But an official with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Huntington (W.Va.) District said there is no delay and the project is running on schedule.
"We said originally that the work would be finished and the bridge reopened to two-lane traffic on Aug. 18. It looks like we'll make that date, barring any delays caused by the weather," said Shane Hall, chief of the contract management section in construction for the Corps' Huntington district.
Car and truck crossings will continue until then to be controlled by a traffic light installed at each end of about a 300-yard section of the bridge.
The closing is not because of any problem with the bridge or the dam itself, Hall said. The upstream lane of the bridge has been blocked since December by a crane. It has its boom over the side and continues working on something down below.
Another crane, which operates on a rail crossing the dam from the Ohio to the Kentucky side, was put out of commission when its engine exploded.
"No one was hurt, but it really tore it up. The crane is used to remove bulkheads from he dam," Hall said. "It's located right above the river and there's no way to get to it to do the repair work without using the other crane on the bridge."
The bridge offers the only Ohio River crossing between Portsmouth and Ironton.
The traffic count on the 10-year-old span was not immediately available, but it's used heavily by motorists crossing back and forth from the Greenup and Lloyd areas in Kentucky, and Wheelersburg in Ohio.
Truckers traveling U.S. 52 in Ohio between Cincinnati and the Chesapeake area also use the bridge. They cross over the Carl Perkins Memorial Bridge to U.S. 23 on the Kentucky side and follow 23 to cross back again to 52 on the Jesse Stuart Bridge, avoiding heavy traffic through Portsmouth and New Boston.