Truckers navigate Louisville after bridge closure

| 9/12/2011

For truckers, Louisville is known for more than the annual Mid-America Trucking Show. It serves important trucking routes along interstates 64 and 65. Even President Obama spoke of its importance as a trucking hub during a recent address to Congress. But with one of the three major bridges closed indefinitely, truckers are doing their best to navigate the area.

On Friday, Sept. 9, Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels announced the closure of the Sherman-Minton Bridge, which carries I-64 and U.S. 150 across the Ohio River between New Albany, IN, and Louisville, KY.

Inspectors found a crack on the Kentucky side and advised immediate closure until repairs can be made. Truckers and commuters are being advised of the detours, generally along I-265 and I-65.

Specifically, for through traffic taking southbound I-64 from Indiana into Kentucky, exit early onto I-265 eastbound and take I-65 southbound to get across the river.

OOIDA Member Darwin Bratcher of Louisville says truckers should pay attention when approaching the river crossing on I-65 (John F. Kennedy Memorial Bridge). That’s where I-65 and U.S. 31 split and the Clark Memorial Bridge carries U.S. 31 across into Kentucky.

“That bridge will put you out at 2nd and Main in downtown Louisville,” Bratcher said. “I would strongly advise that if you don’t know downtown Louisville, stay on I-65.”

For northbound or westbound traffic heading from Kentucky to Indiana, use the I-264 loop to I-65 to cross the river and then use I-265 westbound on the Indiana side to return to I-64.

Gov. Daniels posted on his website that the closure of the Sherman-Minton Bridge is indefinite pending further notice.

Although the bridge carries I-64, it is under jurisdiction of the Indiana DOT according to a long-standing agreement between the two states and the federal government. Daniels has already stated to local media that money should not be an issue to make the necessary repairs.

Not long ago, the Louisville and Southern Indiana Bridge Authority brought forth a plan to put tolls on the Sherman-Minton, Clark Memorial and John F. Kennedy Memorial bridges to raise money to build two new bridges in the Louisville area. Public pressure forced Gov. Daniels and Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear to scale back the Ohio River Bridges Project in terms of size and cost.

In January, the governors knocked $500 million off the $4 billion estimate and said the Sherman-Minton and Clark Memorial bridges would remain toll free. Talk of tolls on the Kennedy bridge are still in limbo, and the governors do not currently possess the authority to make it a tollway.

OOIDA has issued a number of Calls to Action to members in the bistate region during the past two years to oppose tolls on existing highway infrastructure.

See related story:
Toll free? Governors agree to cut costs on Louisville bridges
Louisville bridge meetings draw anti-toll crowd