Work to maintain and repair the U.S. 51 Ohio River Bridge between Wickliffe, Ky., and Cairo, Ill., will restrict traffic to a 7-foot maximum load width starting Monday, July 29.  The work zone restriction will prohibit trucks, buses, motor homes and vehicles pulling trailers from crossing the bridge for approximately 50 days.

The severely restricted work zone is to allow repairs to deck stringers and replacement of 10 joints on the bridge and approaches, as well as some deck patching.

The work zone restrictions will go up at 9 a.m., July 29 and is expected to remain in place until about Sept. 14.

In addition to the strictly enforced 7-foot maximum vehicle width, the turn radius on a curve at the Kentucky end of the bridge will prohibit vehicles more than 19-feet long, dual wheeled vehicles and vehicles pulling trailers. This will essentially limit the bridge to passenger vehicles and light trucks only until the work is completed.

The U.S. 51 Ohio River Bridge also carries U.S. 60 and U.S. 62 between Kentucky and Illinois. It immediately connects with the U.S. 60/U.S. 62 Mississippi River Bridge which carries traffic between Illinois and Missouri.  Commercial trucks make up about 35% of the 5,500 vehicles that cross the Ohio River at the site each day, making it a key transportation link between the three states.

The bridge work zone restriction turns a six-mile trip from Wickliffe, Ky., to Cairo, Ill., into an 80-mile detour for restricted traffic.  However, highway officials say making travel route adjustments before they arrive at the bridge will allow most trucks, motor homes, and travel buses to reduce the length of their detour.

Kentucky Transportation Cabinet engineers noted that by maintaining the 7-foot load width, daily commuters driving passenger vehicles who travel between Kentucky, Illinois and Missouri will still be able to get to and from work. However, they have indicated that there are likely to be significant delays due to alternating traffic flow that will be controlled by a manually operated temporary traffic signal.

Key Elements of the Work Zone include:

  • 7-foot maximum load width
  • 19-foot maximum vehicle length
  • No dual-wheeled vehicles
  • No trailers
  • Barrier walls for worker safety
  • 24-hour police presence with strict work zone enforcement

Due to work requirements on the bridge, vehicles that block the bridge or hit the barrier wall due to being more than 7 feet wide will be subject to citations with a $245 fine or higher.
American Contracting is the prime contractor on this $766,000 highway improvement project.