FLEMINGSBURG, Ky — Beginning Tuesday, April 12, motorists who incorporate the Jesse Stuart Memorial Bridge (KY 10) across the locks and dam in Greenup County, Ky. into their daily commute may want to consider alternative travel plans for the next two months.
On April 12, contractors will restrict the Ohio River crossing to one-lane so old expansion joints can be safely replaced, which will mean traffic delays, according Allen Blair, Kentucky Transportation Cabinet (KYTC) District 9 Public Information Officer. KYTC District 9 was awarded an $857,589.49 low-bid contract to M&M Services Co. Inc. to remove existing joints, install new ones and repair the concrete pavement.
Blair said the bridge work was originally scheduled to begin the first week of April, but was delayed to due to the specialty components for the bridge that have to be manufactured.
“There have been some issues for part of the finger joints that need replacing, that have to be manufactured and there has been some issues with getting those to the site,” Blair said. “What they are waiting on are specialties that are specific for that bridge. Sometimes those types of things can throw things off a week or two. There are plenty of places to get gravel, concrete and asphalt, and plain steel beams, but these components have to be manufactured, and sometime there are scheduled conflicts with that.”
The joints are important components that allow the bridge to expand and contract with temperature changes – have deteriorated over the years, causing potholes and rough driving conditions across the structure’s concrete surface, according to Blair.
Aside from the joints, there should be no other issues to delay the work.
“We don’t foresee any major issues in terms of getting the project started, right now we just want to let people know that, that is the target date for getting underway as far as the traffic control is concerned,” he said.
KYTC District 9 encourages taking the river route only if necessary.
“One thing that I would like to emphasize is that we are going to work with the contractor, so we will be out there monitoring the traffic situation,” he said. “And there could be very long delays with the signal lights. I do encourage people that if you don’t have to cross the river there, then find another way to go simply because there could be a very long wait.”
During construction, temporary traffic signals will be placed on each side of the bridge to route traffic into one lane to cross the river between US 23 in Kentucky and US 52 in Ohio Early departure to reach a destination should be practiced while the one lane traffic is in effect.
“If you have to cross that bridge then leave a little early, especially on the morning and evening commutes,” he said. “We are going to monitoring that situation, and there could be things that we can do to shorten that wait time, and if we can we will do that. It is our goal and the contractors goal to make sure that the wait time is as short as possible, but when you consider that the bridge is very lengthy, and if you have to one-lane the whole thing, and you get lucky and get across, but then the other side is waiting that all of this traffic is crossing. Then once the red light turns red on one side, you’ve got to give it enough time to let all of that traffic clear, and so the red light on the other side can turn green and let all of that traffic across.”
The bridge will remain one lane and signals will operate 24-hours a day, seven days a week until work is complete, which is expected by mid-June.
Because the one-lane work zone could extend across the entire bridge, it’s likely wait times at signals will be lengthy – from three to nine minutes, or longer depending on amount traffic.
Motorists can seek alternate routes between Ohio and Kentucky, if possible, using bridges at Ashland, Russell or Portsmouth, Ohio, to avoid the wait.
Additionally, Blair said no overweight or over-dimensional commercial traffic will be permitted across the bridge during construction. Road work schedules are subject to change depending on weather conditions.
It is requested of motorists to be cognizant of all warning signs, slow down in work zones and remain aware of workers and construction equipment when traveling.
For more information about District 9 online at http://transportation.ky.gov/district-9. Navigate traffic with KYTC, http://511.ky.gov, and Waze, http://waze.com!