Work on U.S. 51 Ohio River Bridge extended - KFVS12 News & Weather Cape Girardeau, Carbondale, Poplar Bluff

Work on U.S. 51 Ohio River Bridge extended

Posted: Updated:
CAIRO, IL (KFVS) -

Work on the U.S. 51 Ohio River Bridge between Wickliffe, Ky., and Cairo, Ill., has been extended to September 22.

Weather delays put the project a week behind schedule.

The work has restricted traffic to a seven-foot maximum vehicle width and 19 ft. maximum vehicle length.

The work zone restriction prohibits trucks, buses, motor homes and vehicles pulling trailers from crossing the bridge.

Other key Elements of the Work Zone include:

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

The restrictions turn a six-mile trip from Wickliffe, Ky., to Cairo, Ill., into an 80-mile detour for restricted traffic.

The detour for traffic between Paducah and Cairo adds about 20 miles to the normal trip. That unmarked detour for trucks and other large vehicles is via I-24 to U.S. 45 at Metropolis, then north to Illinois Route 169 West and south on Illinois Route 37 to Cairo.

The turn radius on a curve at the Kentucky end of the bridge prohibits vehicles more than 19-feet long, dual wheeled vehicles and vehicles pulling trailers. The bridge is limited to passenger vehicles and light trucks only until the work is completed. 

The one lane traffic in the work zone controlled by an automated signal has created some delays, particularly during peak travel periods.

"This project includes repairs to deck stringers, replacement of 10 joints on the bridge and approaches, as well as some deck patching,” said Kentucky Transportation Cabinet District 1 Acting Chief Engineer Mike McGregor in a news release. “The contractor faces a potential penalty for going beyond the original completion date.”

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 percent of the 5,500 vehicles that cross the Ohio River at the site each day, according to KYTC.

The U.S. 51 Ohio River Bridge was constructed by the Cairo Bridge Commission as a toll crossing and opened to traffic Nov. 11, 1936. Tolls were removed from the structure on Nov. 11, 1948, when the highway agencies of Kentucky and Illinois assumed responsibility for maintenance on the bridge.

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