Sherman Minton Bridge questions continue to go unanswered

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - Two-and-a-half inches:  that's how big the crack is that's standing in the way of the Sherman Minton Bridge opening back up.  That's the width of a dollar bill; it's also the width of an iPhone.  While it may sound small, it seems to be presenting a huge challenge, one that no one in the know wants to be specific about.

It's a problem that seems to have everyone talking.

"We've got the President of the United States talking about this bridge in a speech," Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer said last week.

But as the rush hour gridlock continues, so do the unanswered questions.  On Wednesday, September 28, Indiana Senator Dan Coats will join the gaggle of lawmakers to tour the bridge, but will he bring any answers?

WAVE 3 has been vigilant all along, asking for specific details; but over and over again all officials seem to be able to construct are lengthy sentences that don't tell you anything specific about the problem or the solution.

"We're employing various sophisticated techniques of all kinds," Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear said.

"It's just a very complicated process," Kentucky Congressman John Yarmuth said.

"If I started describing it you'd get a piece mail assessment," Kentucky Senator Mitch McConnell said.

"It would be reckless to speculate on any level of specificity," Indiana Congressman Todd Young said.

"In terms of what's going on beneath us, it's a highly complex activity," said Kentucky Transportation Secretary Mike Hancock.

Out of all that we finally got something concrete on Friday, September 23.

"The original crack - the 2 1/2 inch crack - has been repaired.  That actually dates back to when the bridge was constructed in 1962," Governor Beshear said.

But no one will say how the crack formed, how it went unnoticed for decades, and just how dangerous a 2 1/2 inch crack is on such a large bridge.

Officials still haven't released a clear picture of the crack.  Indiana is responsible for the lion's share of the bridge and its upkeep.  Yet when National Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood visited the bridge, Indiana officials couldn't be found.

"Is anyone from INDOT here," a reporter asked the group of powerful representatives taking questions.  The group looked around and couldn't answer.

LaHood even seemed to get grouchy during the end of media questions looking for specifics.

"That one question has turned into four," LaHood declared.

So if the main crack is fixed, why does the bridge remain closed?

"It will not be safe until it's fully inspected and until we fix it," LaHood said.

It's expected to be a few more days until that report is out, but an animated LaHood offers this for some peace of mind.

"This bridge will be fixed, as soon as we get the information.  We'll share it with everybody," LaHood declared.

WAVE 3 talked to three different people at INDOT on Tuesday about the bridge, and none of them would agree to an interview to talk further about the bridge, claiming there was no new information until that all-important report comes out in the coming days.

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