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Ohio River Cairo Bridge to Close for 30 Days
By West Kentucky Star Staff
MCCRACKEN COUNTY - The U.S. 51 Ohio River bridge at Cairo will close Saturday morning for the next 30 days.

Keith Todd with the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet spoke with West Kentucky Star about the upcoming extended closure of the bridge.

According to Todd, the closure is set to begin on Saturday, August 1 at 6:30 a.m. Construction is expected to last approximately 30 days, and will allow for extensive maintenance work along a 2-mile section of the bridge.

The project will include putting in a concrete overlay to help stabilize the roadway and levee.

Todd said, "We're just trying to make sure we get the word out to everybody that crosses the bridge. We have about 7,000 vehicles a day that cross the bridge right now."

For some local travelers, anyone that lives in the Wickliffe area and works in Cairo, the construction could turn a 5 to 7 mile commute into an 80 mile commute.

"The work on the levee has to be done. We've had several years where we've had extended periods of high water and that has taken its toll on the levee. Of course the levee was built in the 1930's, and we have done maintenance on it over time, but those long periods of high water really take their toll on it."

Todd says they chose the early August start date in an attempt to get the construction completed in time for Labor day. Rain could delay the project, but he says they've allowed some extra time just in case they face any delays.

"I know it's going to be a hardship, we're very aware of the hardship this is going to create, but by doing this for 30 days we can get this project done and get the bridge open." Todd continued, "At first it will reopen to one lane traffic, but we can get traffic restored the quickest for those commuters by doing this 30 day closure."

According to Todd, they carefully considered numerous other options for completing the bridge work and levee work, including overnight closures and weekend closures. However, those options would have extended the project by about 12 weeks.

Before pursuing the project, the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet spoke with County officials and local businesses that utilize the bridge.

There will not be an official marked detour. However, those traveling through the area are advised to self-detour via the I-24 Ohio River Bridge at Paducah to U.S. 45 North at Metropolis, then take Illinois Route 169 through Karnak to Illinois Route 37 South to Cairo, or connect to I-57 into Missouri. Those traveling from Cairo would reverse that route.

The Dorena-Hickman Ferry may be a viable alternative for some local travelers. There is a $14 toll for vehicles and half-price for a return trip. The toll is higher for larger vehicles. Additional information on the Dorena-Hickman Ferry can be found at the link below.

He says part of the work they are doing on the bridge is to get it into optimum condition so that at some point in the future they can build a new bridge. They are in the preliminary engineering and design stage of that project, which is approximately 5 to 10 years away.

Published 02:30 PM, Monday Jul. 27, 2020
Updated 02:47 PM, Monday Jul. 27, 2020

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