FRANKFORT, Ky. – After visiting Henderson and talking with business leaders, Governor Ernie Fletcher has directed the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet (KYTC) to formulate a plan to maintain two lanes of traffic in each direction across the U.S. 41 Twin Bridges during the ongoing maintenance and painting of the bridges over the next two years.
Governor Fletcher says the solution will allow completion of important maintenance work on the bridges while minimizing traffic disruptions.
“From the beginning, we have worked diligently to be responsive to the community’s concerns about the impact traffic restrictions on the bridges would have on the area’s economy,” Governor Fletcher said. “Working with the contractor, I believe we have developed a workable solution.”
Following Governor Fletcher’s visit to the bridges on April 20th, the project was re-examined. Kentucky Highway Commissioner Marc Williams said a team of engineers from the district office, the state construction office in Frankfort and representatives of the contractor formulated four or five options to improve traffic flow. The project team focused on the option that appeared to be the most promising.
Engineers expect to have a final cost on the innovative option by early next week. The preferred option would put three lanes of traffic on the southbound bridge, two southbound and one northbound. By then maintaining another northbound lane on the northbound bridge, there would be two lanes of traffic in each direction.
“We’ve been working diligently to fully explore several options that would help to address community concerns about traffic flow while maintaining the safety of workers during this much-needed maintenance work on the bridges,” Commissioner Williams said. “In the last week or two, our engineers were able to determine that this option was actually possible.”
Lane widths on the southbound bridge would be restricted to 10 feet, requiring a strict 35 mile per hour speed limit. It would also reduce the potential for traffic crashes by avoiding a merge zone to take two lanes of travel down to one.
Last week the transportation cabinet approved extending nighttime work hours on the project to allow the contractor to complete more of the work during off-peak travel times. Allowing the contract an extra 17 hours of nighttime work is expected to further reduce the length of the project.
“The Kentucky Transportation Cabinet has been working behind the scenes to come up with an alternate plan to reduce the impact of this work on the community,” said Sen. Dorsey Ridley (D-Henderson). “I believe this option will reduce traffic issues while allowing this important work to go forward.”
“I am deeply appreciative of Governor Fletcher’s help in finding a solution that keeps traffic moving during this project,” said Rep. David Watkins (D-Henderson).
“I appreciate the leadership of Governor Fletcher in taking a fresh look at this issue,” said Ron Geary, owner of Ellis Park in Henderson. “This is a solution that will help both the community and Ellis Park.”
M & J Painting Company is the prime contractor on the $13.7 million bridge maintenance and painting project on the U.S. 41 Twin Bridges. Also known as the Bi-State Gold Star Vietnam War Memorial Bridges, the two structures carry approximately 40,000 vehicles a day across the Ohio River between Henderson, Kentucky, and Evansville, Indiana. The northbound bridge was opened to traffic in 1932. It was last rehabbed in 1983. The southbound bridge was opened to traffic in 1965. It was last painted in 1990.