UPDATE: Major Restrictions on US 51 Ohio River Bridge Begin July 29

Jul 15, 2013

US 51 Ohio River Bridge
Credit Knowledgeum, via Wikimedia Commons, Public Domain

  Work to maintain and repair the U.S. 51 Ohio River Bridge between Wickliffe, Kentucky and Cairo, Illinois will restrict traffic to a 7 -foot maximum load width starting Monday, July 29, 2013 (KYTC had initially reported the 22nd, the contractor requested to delay the start date one week.)  The work zone restriction will prohibit trucks, buses, motor homes and vehicles pulling trailers from crossing the bridge for approximately 56 days.

The work zone restrictions will begin 9:00am,  July 22nd and remain in place until approximately September 14th.

The work zone is to allow repairs to deck stringers and replacement of 10 joints on the bridge and approaches, as well as some deck patching. 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, dual wheeled vehicles and vehicles pulling trailers. This will essentially limit the bridge to passenger vehicles and light trucks 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, Kentucky to Cairo, Illinois into an 80-mile detour for restricted traffic.  However, highway officials say by making travel route adjustments before they arrive at the bridge will allow most trucks, motor homes and travel buses to reduce the detour length.

Kentucky Transportation Cabinet engineers noted that by maintaining the 7-foot load width, daily commuters driving passenger vehicles who travel between Kentucky, Illinois and Missouri will still be able to get to and from work.  However, they have indicated that there are likely to be 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

·         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 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.