Area residents say a proposal to completely close the I-64 bridge between Louisville and New Albany, Indiana shouldn’t be considered because it would devastate the local economy.
The Sherman Minton Renewal Project is a plan to repair and add service life to the 57-year-old bridge. One proposal is to shut the bridge down entirely during construction, which would shorten the time it takes to finish. But at a public comment meeting in New Albany Thursday, Spring Street Neighborhood Association President Greg Roberts said that’s not an option.
“It’s going to take them a much longer time to take to even get to work. And then with the downtown businesses – with our thriving downtown businesses which would be totally cutoff from any traffic coming across the Sherman Minton Bridge, which a lot of traffic comes over to New Albany,” he said
If the Sherman Minton Bridge is closed, it would send more than 90,000 cars daily to the other bridges connecting Kentucky and Indiana. Three of those — the northbound I-65 Lincoln Bridge, the southbound I-65 Kennedy Bridge and the I-265 Lewis and Clark Bridge — are toll bridges. Other options include partially closing the span, which would extend the construction.
Even so, New Albany business owner and city council candidate Cisa Kubley said those options are preferable to the plan to close the bridge entirely.
“In the weeks leading up to this community meeting, I’ve talked with other business owners and other residents. I’ve talked to some of the constituents in the district where I’m running for city council and just people that I know in the community, and I’ve not heard a single person say that bridge closure is an option for them,” she said.
The bridge was entirely shut down for five months in September, 2011 for emergency repairs after a crack was discovered. Construction for the new project is planned to start in 2021. It’s expected to cost more than $90 million to complete, and could take two to three years to finish. Officials are set to decide which approach to take by this fall.