Monday's lessons brings changes for Tuesday's commute

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - Monday marked the first weekday of "Shermageddon" as tens of thousands of drivers learn new routes and experience delays in light of the emergency closure of the Sherman Minton Bridge on Friday.

Transportation crews from the city, county, and state levels all scrambled to put a plan together for the Monday morning and evening rush hours; a plan they said will be edited along the way.

After the Monday morning and evening commute, there were lessons learned which has prompted some new changes for Tuesday:

  • Adjusting signal timing in downtown areas on both sides of river;
  • Restricting parking around 2nd and Main streets near Clark Memorial Bridge in downtown Louisville to keep traffic flowing;
  • On the Third Street exit ramp from I-64 westbound in Louisville, requiring motorists to turn right only onto River Road. During this restriction for morning rush, motorists can enter the downtown grid through 4th and 6th streets; and
  • Increasing the number of lane-dividing pylons on the Kennedy Bridge, which carries I-65, to prevent the lane-jumping that so often leads to crashes.

That's on top of changes that were previously announced for the morning:

  • Special lane-dividing markers on the I-65 Kennedy Bridge to more firmly channel southbound traffic toward I-64 and I-71. Motorists will not be able to access the right lane once they are on the bridge.
  • In Louisville, closure of one lane of the ramp from I-65 north onto I-64 east.
  • In Jeffersonville, Ind., closure of the Court Avenue ramp to I-65 south from 6 a.m. to 10 a.m. EDT weekdays.

And for the evening:

  • In Louisville, closure of the ramp from westbound I-64 onto I-65 in downtown Louisville. That will restrict I-64 to local access downtown. Commuters wanting to access I-65 will be required to use I-71 or surface streets.
  • In Indiana when the I-65 northbound ramp to I-265 westbound is overloaded, signs will direct traffic to a make-shift U-turn at the Indiana 60 exit one mile to the north. Signal timing at the entrance and exit ramps have been modified to help traffic flow.

These plans will be in place for the immediate future, as the Sherman Minton is expected to be closed for at least three weeks while crews determine the cause of the crack and best way to repair the 1960's structure.

"What we saw [Monday] is going to be the norm until that Sherman Minton Bridge gets opened up," said Sgt. Jerry Goodin with Indiana State Police.

With all the changes and long back-ups, police report only a few minor wrecks during Monday's rush hours.

"Things went fairly smoothly this morning besides the delays but we're only one crash away from having a major problem so we want to have adequate people around," Goodin said.

Despite the stress added to the two aging bridges, they still say there's nothing to worry about.

"I am here again to reassure you that those bridges are safe. We have confidence in the safety and reliability of those structures. The structural ability of those bridges is not in question," said Secretary Mike Hancock with the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet.

The Clark Memorial Bridge was last inspected in April 2011 and passed. The Kennedy Bridge, however, was scheduled to be inspected this week, but that has been postponed because crews have to close off one lane of the bridge during the inspection. With the increased traffic volume, officials have decided to delay that inspection.

The Kennedy Bridge last passed inspection in November of 2010.

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