The Sherman Minton Bridge is a double-deck through arch bridge spanning the Ohio River, carrying I-64 and US 150 over the river between Kentucky and Indiana. The bridge connects the west side of Louisville, Kentucky to downtown New Albany, Indiana.
In 1952 the "Second Street Bridge" was reaching peak traffic, and the K&I Bridge faring similarly. Arthur W. Grafton commissioned two studies in 1952 and 1953, with their results being a need for two bridges in Louisville; one crossing to Jeffersonville, Indiana, and the other to New Albany. Hoosiers as far as Scottsburg, Indiana (30 miles (48 km) away) were vastly against making any bridges toll, and many residents of Louisville were against toll bridges as well. When the Interstate Highway System was announced by President Dwight D. Eisenhower, the solution became clear. The Federal government would finance 90% of both bridges, with Indiana paying 10% of the New Albany bridge, and Kentucky paying 10% of the Jeffersonville bridge.
The New Albany bridge was given to Hazelet & Erdal, of Louisville to design in 1956. Construction began in June 1959, and was completed in August 1962. It was built at a cost of $14.8 million. In December 1962 Indiana governor Matthew E. Welsh announced it would be named for the former United States Senator and Supreme Court justice Sherman Minton, who was a native of New Albany. The American Institute of Steel Construction in 1961 named it the most beautiful long-span bridge of the year.
View of the bridge from the Main Street in New Albany
On February 5, 2009, a fifteen container coal barge lost power and was pushed downstream by the current and struck the bridge's central pier. The Indiana Department of Transportation (INDOT) closed the bridge for several hours while it was inspected for damage. When no damage was found, the bridge was reopened later the same day.
Closure of 2011-2012
On September 9, 2011, Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels ordered the bridge closed. This was done after construction crews found cracks in the main load-bearing structural element. Experts from INDOT, the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet (KYTC), the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), and private engineering firms and academic institutions participated in determining the severity of this crack and others found on the bridge, and determine whether the bridge could be saved.
It was initially feared the bridge would remain closed from several months to up to 3 years, and that the entire span would have to be either completely replaced or extensively renovated before the Sherman Minton Bridge could reopen to traffic. However, engineers determined the crack that initiated the bridge closure dated back to the bridge's original construction in the 1960s, but had not been discovered until the summer of 2011 because another structural component was covering it. On September 23, 2011, Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear and US Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood announced the 2.5-inch crack has been repaired, but the bridge would remain closed until crews completed an inspection of the remainder of the bridge. Five to seven additional cracks were discovered during the following inspection in welded areas in a load-bearing steel beam. "The fissures were discovered in a type of steel frequently used in the 1950s and 1960s that is now known to be susceptible to cracking. ...". This necessitated the bridge being closed for an extended period of time for repairs. Repairs cost $20 million and ultimately took four months to complete.
In a news release from the Indiana Department of Transportation, dated October 18, 2011, Governor Mitch Daniels announced that Louisville based Hall Contracting of Kentucky had been awarded the repairs contract in the amount of $13.9 million. A time frame of 135 work days was announce with an incentive of $100,000 per day to finish early. Likewise, a penalty of $100,000 would be deducted from the contract payments for each day over. Repair cost were covered by the Federal Highway Administration, who announced on September 30, 2011 that it would contribute 25% of the cost, with the remaining 75% being equally split between Indiana and Kentucky.
The contract attached 2,400,000 pounds (1,100,000 kg) of reinforcing steel plating along both sides of the bridge ties spanning 1,600 feet (490 m). The repairs along with regular maintenance increased the bridge's safety and reliability and extend its useful life by at least 20 years.
Repairs were completed and the Sherman Minton Bridge reopened at 11:50 pm on February 17, 2012.
The bridge is a double-deck configuration—westbound traffic from Kentucky to Indiana travels on the upper deck of the bridge, while eastbound traffic from Indiana into Kentucky travels on the lower deck of the bridge. It is of similar construction to the Hernando de Soto Bridge in Memphis, Tennessee (but the de Soto Bridge is single-deck).
The steel used was T1 steel, which in the early 1960s was "innovative material" but is much weaker than modern steel. Classification of the bridge is "fracture critical" because if one part of the bridge should fail, the entire bridge could be at risk.
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1.^ Jump up to: a b c Kleber p.123
2.Jump up ^ Kleber pp.123,418
3.Jump up ^ Mike Dever (2009-02-05). "Sherman Minton Bridge Reopens". WAVE 3 News. Retrieved 2011-09-12.
4.Jump up ^ "Sherman Minton bridge shut down; crack found in bridge". Louisville, Kentucky: WDRB. September 9, 2011. Retrieved September 9, 2011.
5.Jump up ^ "Sherman Minton Bridge closed indefinitely due to structural cracks". Louisville, KY: The Courier-Journal. September 9, 2011. Retrieved September 11, 2011.
6.Jump up ^ Barrouquere, Brett; Cappiello, Janet (September 12, 2011). "Traffic nightmare over closed Ohio River bridge". Associated Press. Archived from the original on August 20, 2014. Retrieved September 12, 2011.
7.Jump up ^ LAHOOD: One Sherman Minton Bridge crack repaired; no timetable for re-opening WDRB-TV, Sept 23, 2011
8.Jump up ^ "Sherman Minton Bridge repairs to take six months, cost $20M". The Courier-Journal. October 1, 2011. Retrieved October 1, 2011.
9.Jump up ^ "Sherman Minton Bridge Repair to Require 135 Work Days" (PDF). Indiana Department of Transportation. Retrieved 27 October 2011.
10.Jump up ^ http://www.corydondemocrat.com/Articles-i-2012-02-21-224052.114125-Motorists-celebrate-bridge-reopening.html
11.Jump up ^ "Agency: Sherman Minton Bridge's Steel More Brittle". Associated Press. 12 September 2011. Retrieved 12 September 2011.
Kleber, John E., ed. (2001). The Encyclopedia of Louisville. University Press of Kentucky. ISBN 0-8131-2100-0.