Shermageddon ends at midnight Friday: Sherman Minton Bridge to reopen [Opinion: The Arena]

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Over troubled waters...

It looks like the long-awaited reopening of the damaged Sherman Minton Bridge will finally happen at midnight Friday; 161 days after the double-deck arch span was shut down to traffic last September 9, when inspectors found cracks in the bridge’s structural steel.  Several Louisville television stations are reporting the midnight reopening, but the report could not be confirmed by the Indiana Department of Transportation or Kentucky Transportation Cabinet.  The latest INDOT report confirms that the repair contractors had started to clear equipment off the bridge Friday evening, and that the restriping of the traffic lanes has been completed.

SHERMAN MINTON 0217A.jpgAfter more than five months of commuter inconvenience and congestion—referred to by locals as Shermageddon— the Interstate 64 bridge over the Ohio River, connecting Louisville to New Albany will definitely be reopened on Friday, as we predicted yesterday.

Part of the uncertainty about the scheduling of “reopening day,” was due to the effect weather conditions were having on the temperature-sensitive operation of painting pavement markings.  Motorists can thank Friday’s mild weather for bringing their traffic nightmare to an early ending.

Louisville-based Hall Contracting was awarded a $13.9 million contract to repair the bridge, by installing 2.4 million pounds of reinforcing steel plating along both sides of the bridge ties that run horizontally along the entire 1,600-foot structure.  Hall earned a bonus payment of $100,000 for each day after completing repairs, prior to the deadline of March 1.  Certainly no one on either side of the river will deny that they earned every penny.

The double-deck arch bridge, connecting Kentucky and Indiana, was built at a cost of $14.8 million and opened in 1962.  It was named after former U.S. Senator and Supreme Court Justice Sherman Minton, who was a native of New Albany.

THIS JUST IN:  At 9:35 p.m. Friday, WHAS-11 reported that the bridge's opening on Friday night was confirmed in a briefing by Governor Mitch Daniels' office, according to Indiana State Representative Ed Clere (R-New Albany).

AND, FINALLY:  We received an email announcement from the INDOT press officer, formally declaring that the Sherman Minton Bridge would be open for traffic at midnight, Friday.  The email was sent out at exactly 11:59 p.m. Friday.

To view a TRIMARC camera from the Sherman Minton Bridge, click here.

WDRB:  SHERMAN MINTON BRIDGE TO OPEN AT MIDNIGHT TONIGHT

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Louisville.com's The Arena section features opinions from active participants in the city's politics. Their viewpoints are not those of Louisville.com (a website is an inanimate object and, as such, has no opinions).  The Arena is read by more people in Louisville than in any other city in America.  And even the folks over in New Albany are welcome to take a look, now and then. Photo credits:  WDRB, INDOT.

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