What To Know About The Clark Memorial Bridge Shutdown

Louisville traffic authorities said the first morning commute following the closure of the Clark Memorial Bridge was not as troublesome as many expected.

Major delays were expected for motorists that usually depend on the Clark Memorial Bridge, which closed Tuesday for construction on the new Ohio River downtown bridge. The Clark Memorial Bridge is expected to be closed for about six weeks.

Jim Mallory is the operation center supervisor for TRIMARC, which monitors traffic on the freeway system in Louisville and Southern Indiana.

“I think a whole lot of what made it go great was that the police department had a big detail helping the traffic get off the interstate onto the surface streets,” he said. 

“We had a little back up on I-64 eastbound and on Ninth Street, not a whole lot, but we could tell the volume was a little heavier.”

Mallory said he expects afternoon travel to be slower than morning commutes, but authorities’ approach will remain the same for traffic control.

Despite authorities’ affirmation that things are going well ,you may have sat in a bit more traffic than usual this morning.  During that wait, you may have conjured up some questions about the shutdown, in general.  Here are some answers:

Why is the Clark Memorial Bridge closed for six weeks?

As WFPL previously reported, the Clark Memorial, also known as the Second Street Bridge, is closing so crews can complete ramp construction work on the Indiana side of the bridge.  Mindy Peterson, a spokeswoman for the Downtown Crossing of the Ohio River Bridges Project, said: “nothing is changing on the bridge itself,” but the work will be in the proximity of traffic corridors.  Also, no work is being done on the Kentucky side.

How will daily commutes be affected?

Based on today’s situation, not too bad.  Lt. Joe Seeyle, traffic unit commander for Louisville Metro Police, said motorists should expect slightly slower drive times and he emphasized to be patient and “pre-plan your routes.”  

Seeyle said areas near the Ninth Street ramp and I-64 eastbound saw the heaviest traffic on Tuesday morning.

Nearly 25,000 vehicles each day crossed the Clark Memorial Bridge. Louisville’s other two vehicle-carrying spans will pick up the the motorists who traverse the Clark Memorial Bridge,  Seeyle said.

About  125,000 vehicles cross the Kennedy Bridge each day, and about 75,000 cross the Sherman Minton Bridge.

So, what should I do?

As Seeyle said, “pre plan” your route.  He said GPS may not be able to account for the delays, so be ready to take detour.  

Mallory, from TRIMARC said motorists should to make sure to have plenty of gas.  Running out of gas on a bridge is not something you, or anyone, wants to deal with.

What are my other options?

TARC has asked people to consider carpooling and public transportation while the bridge has closed.

Also, the Big Four Bridge is open for pedestrians and cyclists.

What are authorities doing to make traffic flow better?

Seeyle said more than 20 officers have been pulled from other beats across the county to help clear intersections and respond to any traffic situation that may arise.

Mallory said he credits the added police presence on  Tuesday morning for the lack of major delays.  Police will help direct traffic and control some traffic lights to allow longer green lights for on and off ramp traffic.

 Seeyle said drivers need to remember that stopping in an intersection is a traffic violation,and police do have the option of issuing tickets for such offenses.  

“Use good common sense,” Seeyle said.

Jacob Ryan

Jacob Ryan is the Urban Affairs reporter for WFPL.

@jacobhryan

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