NEW ALBANY, IN (WAVE) - Traffic concerns caused by the closure of the Sherman Minton Bridge were addressed Friday night by those who will be dealing with it. Indiana State Police tell WAVE 3 they expect to see a big backup on Monday morning on Interstate 65 at the Kennedy Bridge, especially in the southbound lanes.
"This is going to be too much traffic for this city to handle," said New Albany Mayor Doug England.
England said he is certainly very happy that safety of the community is coming first and applauded Governor Mitch Daniels for going above and beyond to ensure that, but he is concerned about how long the Sherman Minton will be closed.
"This is going to be chaotic around here now," said England.
The mayor is concerned about commuters working in Kentucky and what kind of tie-up they are going to have getting to and from work and vice versa for those in Indiana. England is also worried about what it means for local business.
"You've got an entertainment center down at the Casino and you've got all the people going back and forth and then we have the Harvest Homecoming Festival that dumps about 300,000 or more people into this city and that's going to be just chaotic," said England.
Harvest Homecoming is Indiana's second largest festival bringing needed revenue to New Albany.
"Since the Minnesota collapse, there's been a renewed emphasis on bridge inspections," said Timothy Wessel, local structural engineer.
The 2007 collapse of I-35 put a huge focus on bridge safety nationwide. Wessel believes the state will certainly use extra caution to ensure safety before re-opening the Sherman Minton, which could mean a long wait.
"Cracks often happen in bridges because of fatigue stress," Wessel tells us truck traffic normally causes that fatigue stress and the Sherman Minton opened in 1962 at a time when fatigue wasn't really accounted for as it is now. For now, police ask drivers for patience as their daily trips will be rerouted and delayed.
"We are not going to tolerate any type of road rage," warned Sgt. Jerry Goodin of the Indiana State Police. "There will be trying times, but we're going to get through this and it's just going to take a little bit longer to get there."
ISP ask drivers to be prepared for delays and say if you know alternate routes getting to and from work, take them. Extra troopers will be out on the roads to help keep the peace while the bridge is closed.
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