blue Bridge3_300OWENSBORO, Ky. (9/6/13) – Painting of the KY 2262/IN Route 161 Ohio River Bridge – the "Blue Bridge" in downtown Owensboro – is running ahead of schedule. The Kentucky Transportation Cabinet (KYTC) reported today the contractor is expected to complete painting of the main truss next week and moving efforts to the approach spans.

The bridge has been closed for painting since May 13. During a briefing for area news media and local officials today, KYTC District 2 Chief Engineer Kevin McClearn said for each day the contractor is able to work on the approach spans this year means one less day for lane restrictions next year.

"We're obviously pleased with the progress the contractor has made on the main truss," McClearn said. "At this point the contractor is about 2 months ahead of schedule. They have maintained an aggressive schedule from day one by keeping two crews on the bridge and taking only 3 days off. The contractor intends to get as much work on the approach spans completed as possible by mid-November."

Using an orange traffic control barrel for a podium, McClearn said the decision to close the bridge for one full construction season has paid off by allowing the contractor unimpeded access to the bridge.

"We recognize closing the bridge to all traffic is a hardship on those who have to drive an extra 10 miles or more to travel between Southern Indiana and downtown Owensboro," McClearn said. "However, giving the contractor full access to the bridge has helped to substantially speed up the cleaning and painting process. The more work they complete this year on the approach spans means less need for traffic restrictions next year."

The painting contract calls for the bridge to be closed to all traffic until Nov. 15. Any work on the approach spans remaining after Nov. 15 can be completed from underneath the bridge with only minor traffic disruptions during the 2014 construction season. McClearn said the contractor will make a push to complete the approach spans this year, but some touch-up and finish work may still be required next year.

The contractor is also moving ahead with concrete deck patching and curb work along older sections of the deck. About 44 percent of the deck was replaced during a partial rehab project in 2011.

McClearn also announced that KYTC engineers have coordinated plans with the City of Owensboro to close Second Street starting Sept. 15. That closure where Second Street runs under the Kentucky approach spans should allow the contractor to complete work on the Kentucky side by about Oct. 1. That would then allow the contractor to focus on the Indiana approaches until Nov. 15.

Spartan Contracting, LLC, of Ohio, is the prime contractor on the $10,070,000 painting project.

The 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 (INDot) agreed to advance their share of the funding to put the project on track for the 2013-2014 construction season.

The Blue Bridge is a 4,622 ft. structure that connects KY 2262 and Indiana State Route 161 over the Ohio River at Owensboro. About 8,500 vehicles cross the Ohio River on the Blue Bridge between Kentucky and Indiana in an average day. Trucks account for about 15 percent of that traffic. The structure opened to traffic in September 1940 as a toll bridge. The tolls were discontinued in 1954.

The Blue Bridge is at Ohio River navigation mile point 756.3.

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