A Second Louisville Bridge in Jeopardy

A Second Louisville Bridge in Jeopardy

December 13, 2011

With the Sherman Minton Bridge closed for repairs, inspectors have noted deficiencies in the Kennedy Bridge but declared it safe.

The Kennedy Bridge carries I-65 across the Ohio River to Louisville's north; the Sherman Minton carries I-64 across the Ohio to the west.

According to the The Courier-Journal, the Kennedy "is plagued by a cracked roadway, damaged joints causing flat tires and possible cracks in key support beams — including four that were noted for the first time during the inspection in fall 2010."

RoadsBridges.com, a sibling to Construction Equipment, currently is polling the industry as to whether the bridge should be closed.

As I noted in September, the congestion in Louisville during ICUEE was  severe with the I-64 bridge closed. If the I-65 bridge were to be closed at the same time, interstate commerce would be immediately affected. Look at a map, and you'll see an interstate hub. United Parcel Service operates a shipping center out of Louisville. I imagine they would need to reroute air traffic, or at least their trucks, to service the region on the other side of the Ohio.

On the other hand, if we have a catastrophic failure of that bridge, which is handling a lot of rerouted I-64 traffic, nobody will be talking about interstate commerce.

Frankly, this situation angers me. We've identified a potential disaster, and it seems at least likely that we're putting up with it because there's another bridge already closed.

Nobody in the construction industry doubts how we got here. Funding for roads and bridges hasn't come close to meeting the needs for years. And the reason is simple: Our elected officials in Washington, D.C., have forgotten that they are elected to serve the nation, not special interests and their own greed.

Interstate commerce falls under the purview of Washington. How unfortunate that they've squandered our tax dollars on programs that have no business being funded by the federal government, and now we're facing ticking timebombs along the nation's lanes of commerce with empty pockets.

If that doesn't worry, anger or scare you, talk to the folks in Louisville.