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Governor: Ohio River bridge repairs to take months

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Work to repair an ailing Ohio River bridge shut down between Kentucky and Indiana will cost about $20 million, and it will take about six months to fix and reopen the heavily traveled span, Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels said Friday.

Daniels said during a press conference that steel plating will be installed on the nearly 50-year-old Sherman Minton Bridge linking Louisville and New Albany along Interstate 64.

Gov. Steve Beshear of Kentucky, who joined Daniels in announcing plans for the double-decker bridge, said the states will find the money to get the repairs done.

"This is a top priority," Beshear said at a press conference in New Albany. "This is a crisis. This moves to the top of the list in Kentucky and Indiana."

Daniels said the project will be bid quickly with the aim of starting work as soon as possible.

"We're going to fix every single defect that was found, then apply this additional sheathing end to end," Daniels said.

Daniels said the repairs are estimated to last 20 years.

"Dollars and cents were always an afterthought. Safety first, speed second," Daniels said. "But, I like what I'm hearing on the dollars and cents."

The bridge closed Sept. 9 after an approximately 2-1/2-inch-long crack was found in a steel support beam.

The bridge had been used by more than 80,000 vehicles a day. Traffic has shifted to the area's two other Ohio River bridges, causing longer rush-hour delays.

Indiana transportation officials had previously said the damage was not extensive enough to warrant a full replacement of the bridge.

Inspection crews have worked almost around the clock doing a top-to-bottom examination of the bridge.

Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer said in a statement that having the bridge closed for six more months will be inconvenient, but "it's better than the alternative of having the bridge closed for years."

The bridge has drawn a steady stream of political leaders from both states, and its closure has come as President Barack Obama pushes his jobs program, which would spend billions of dollars on infrastructure.

Obama highlighted his jobs plan with a recent visit to another outdated Ohio River bridge that connects Ohio and Kentucky.

U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood toured the deserted Sherman Minton Bridge a week ago and said federal officials are committed to getting it reopened.

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  • Republican Issue
    It seems "conservatives" should have the most to complain about. Budget numbers can be rearranged to provide a false front of how a state is doing. If we were in such good shape, the Gov wouldn't need to sell assets and starve education and social programs. He took future revenue and budget items and pumped them into his account for expensive road projects that will simply cost us much more in the future to keep up. We obviously have such issues dealing with what we have. I-69 will benefit trade routes from the souht to the north. Indiana will see very little in the way of any benefit and the cost will far exceed any benefit. You continue to be blinded by Mitch's bumbling country charm and watch the state collapse. When the market returns, and states that have invested in a productive future succeed, where will we be? Good luck in all those jobs Mitch promised or the income gain he promised, or the education increase he promised.....gosh, it seems like he is full of promises. Kinda wish Mitch wasn't our Governor for the past three years.
  • Liberal Thinking
    If Mitch was not our governor for the past three years there would be no discussion about extra money because there would be no money to discuss. When Mitch took office the state of Indiana was almost one billion dollars in debt becaue of the past four terms of Democrats. I;m am sure Mitch will get the bridge repaired and still build I -69. The same Liberals complaning about I-69 will benefit when it is completed.
    • Money a plenty
      There is plenty of money if the Governor has the guts. Pull all the funding for the new terrain I-69, roughly $3.5B and fix ALL the bridges in the state. By fixing the existing bridges connecting to both Kentucky and Illinois, people won't be trapped in Indiana.

      The new terrain I-69 has/is/continues to suck every dollar from every other maintenance project in the state. Shut it down. We need to fix what we have.
    • Where's the money?
      Joe, I could not have said it better.
    • Delays
      No worries, I'm sure Mitch can take some money from education or social services and invest it in an account, then claim we have a surplus, then pour the money into financial donors to work on the bridge....and then he will write another book?

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