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Bridge repainting nears in Owensboro

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OWENSBORO, Ky. – A contractor for the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet plans to be onsite about April 15 to start prep work for painting of the KY 2262 Ohio River Bridge in downtown Owensboro.

It will take the contractor several days to get equipment delivered, set up and prepared for actual work to start on The Blue Bridge. No lane restrictions or overnight closures are planned until after that date. 

According to Kentucky Transportation Cabinet District 2 spokesman Keith Todd, that would mean about the earliest motorists would see lane restrictions and overnight closures on the the Blue Bridge would be around April 21.

Current plans call for the Blue Bridge to be closed to all traffic for the painting project after May 12, allowing it to be fully open during Owensboro’s International Bar-B-Que Festival.

Before the festival, periodic overnight closures and lane restrictions will be allowed during the week to configure rigging and position equipment to ensure the work begins quickly once the contractor is given full control of the structure.

Todd said the contractor will meet with engineers in the next week or two to firm up a start date for preliminary work required to prepare for the cleaning and painting. The painting project is jointly funded by Kentucky and Indiana. The Blue Bridge was originally scheduled for painting in 2017. Following the re-development of Owensboro’s riverfront, local lawmakers moved funding for new paint up in the Kentucky road plan.

The Indiana Department of Transportation agreed to advance their share of the funding to put the project on track for the 2013 construction season.

Closing the bridge after May 12 will impact commuters and about 30 businesses that depend on bridge traffic. Many of the businesses affected by the six-month closure are along Indiana 161 between the bridge and Indiana 66 at Reo. Closing of the bridge requires a detour via the U.S. 231 William Natcher Bridge that adds about 10 miles to a trip from Reo to downtown Owensboro. 

The Blue Bridge was also closed for three months during the 2011 construction season for a partial rehabilitation of the bridge deck.

The painting contract calls for the bridge to be closed to all traffic from about May 13 until Nov. 15 this year in an effort to complete work on the main span during one construction season. 

The Blue Bridge would be expected to reopen to traffic by Nov. 15 in time for Thanksgiving and Christmas holiday traffic. Work on the approach spans can be completed from underneath the bridge with only minor traffic disruptions.

Spartan Contracting LLC of Ohio, was the successful bidder at $10,070,000 for painting of the bridge in downtown Owensboro. The contract came in almost $10.4 million below the engineer’s estimate for the project.

Approximately 8,500 vehicles cross the Ohio River on the Blue Bridge between Kentucky and Indiana in an average day. The structure opened to traffic in September 1940 as a toll bridge. 

The tolls were discontinued in 1954.