From mid-May to mid-November, nobody will be allowed to cross the Blue Bridge that connects Owensboro, KY, and rural Indiana southeast of Evansville. That’s because of a six-month project to sandblast, prime and paint the structure. Owensboro Mayor Ron Payne has a plan to keep trucks off the bridge permanently after it reopens.
An official with the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet says the painting project is a much bigger undertaking than people think it would be.
“It’s not just a matter of getting out there with a paint brush and throwing some paint on it,” Cabinet spokesman Keith Todd told “Land Line Now.”
The two-lane Blue Bridge, also named the Glover Cary Bridge, began carrying traffic in 1940 over the Ohio River via Indiana Route 161 and Kentucky State Route 2262.
Rather than spread single lane closures over two construction seasons, the states of Indiana and Kentucky agreed to a full closure in order to blast, prime and paint the truss in one season.
“By closing the bridge to all traffic, our contractor should be able to get out there starting after May 12, and between May 12 and Nov. 15 paint the entire main truss,” Todd said.
The detour will route traffic to the modern William H. Natcher Bridge on U.S. 231, adding about 10 miles to a trip.
“That is if you’re directly north of this bridge” he said. “If you’re coming from farther out and can adjust your route, you can travel less out of the way than that.”
Todd says his family was in the trucking business 19 years.
“I’m not without sympathy for the truckers that have to endure some of these detours,” he said. “I know some of what you’re up against.”
Truckers may be up against a lot more than a six-month closure of the Blue Bridge. According to a local news report, Owensboro Mayor Ron Payne wants to ban trucks permanently from the bridge once it reopens to traffic following the painting project.
Payne was quoted April 2 as saying trucks cause damage to downtown city streets and that a semi recently “knocked down one of our light posts.”
The mayor wasn’t available for comment on Friday.
Trucker Tom White of Owensville, IN, thinks the mayor is wrong for wanting to ban trucks.
“I just thing he’s wrong for it,” White said. “There’s a lot of commercial traffic uses that bridge. … With diesel at $4 a gallon, it’s going to adversely affect every driver out here that’s got to go through there.”
“They keep forgetting that if it wasn’t for professional drivers, they wouldn’t have anything to eat, anything to wear, any place to sleep. Every time they build a bridge they want us to go on down, but it costs drivers money per mile every time we’ve got to go out and around.”
“Land Line Now” News Anchor Reed Black contributed to this story.