Starting Saturday, truck drivers traveling through Kentucky may be forced to take an 82-mile detour.
Beginning, Saturday, August 1, at 6:30 am, contractors for the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet will shut down the U.S. 51 Ohio River “Cairo” Bridge.
KYTC District 1 Chief Engineer Kyle Poat recognizes that the closure is a hardship on commuters, businesses, and industries that depend on the bridge.
“We carefully considered about a half-dozen options for completing both the bridge work and the levee work this construction season,” Poat said. “We looked at overnight closures and weekend closures. Those options did not allow enough construction time for completion of the work this year. This 30-day closure, while creating a temporary hardship, gets the work completed and the bridge reopened to one-lane traffic in the shortest possible time.”
The bridge carries U.S. 51, U.S. 60, and U.S. 62 traffic across the Ohio River between Wickliffe, Kentucky, and Cairo, Illinois, at U.S. 51 Kentucky mile point 7.372.
“When the bridge closes Aug. 1, a normal 5-mile drive from Wickliffe, Kentucky, to Cairo, Illinois, will become an 80-mile detour via the Interstate 24 Ohio River Bridge at Paducah. Portable message boards will be set up at key locations to alert travelers and truckers to the closure before they reach the bridge,” the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet said in a press release.
Approximately 7,000 vehicles cross the bridge each day. A third of those travelers are commercial vehicles.
The press release states, “There will be no officially marked detour. However, motorists and truckers are advised to self-detour via the I-24 Ohio River Bridge at Paducah to U.S. 45 North at Metropolis, Illinois, then take Illinois Route 169 through Karnak to Illinois Route 37 South to Cairo or to connect to Interstate 57 into Missouri. Motorists at Cairo will reverse that route. Motorists who adjust their route prior to reaching the bridge can greatly reduce the detour mileage.”
In addition, the Cabinet said that those drivers who don’t want to take the lengthy detour can take the Dorena-Hickman Ferry.
For information on the ferry operating schedule go to https://www.facebook.com/DorenaHickmanFerry/. “Area farmers have already been using the ferry to take wide equipment around the maximum 8½-foot load width in the bridge work zone.”
The Dorena-Hickman Ferry hours of operation do not fit into Facebook's options. We run on demand except for the first…Posted by Dorena-Hickman Ferry on Monday, January 29, 2018
“Our contractor has committed resources to complete as much work as possible during this 30-day window,” Poat said. “We are confident this extra effort will assure that all work on the bridge is completed by our original target date. It helps assure one-lane traffic can be restored around Labor Day, and bridge traffic can return to normal flow about the time the fall crop harvest season ramps up.”
The detour is expected to last 30 days.