LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - It's another sight for sore eyes. Orange cones have replaced 10,000-pound barricades on Interstate-64, near the Georgia Powers Expressway. It's prep work that has to completed before traffic can access the Sherman Minton Bridge.
Kentucky highway crews worked early Friday morning to bring the bridge closer to reopening after five months of repairs.
"A lot of people think they're opening it up today, but they're not. We haven't been given an exact time yet from the contractor," Andrea Clifford said, Kentucky Transportation Cabinet Public Information Officer.
A small crane hoisted concrete barricades onto tractor trailers that were eventually hauled away. Crews prepared the approach to the Sherman Minton along the westbound section of I-64 and westbound I-64 to I-65.
Workers began disassembling the barricade wall before sunrise. "Since we know it's going to be a matter of less than a week until the bridge opens, we figured we can go ahead and open that ramp back up. We'll have some additional traffic in with the detour route since we're only talking a short period of time," Clifford said.
Late Tuesday morning, the Indiana Department of Transportation announced that the bridge could open about a week earlier than the contracted March 1 deadline.
"When they notified us about removing the concrete barriers, their email stated we do not have an exact date for reopening the bridge - we're just giving you some notice so you can get the concrete barriers out of the way," Clifford said.
The double-decker bridge, which carries Interstate 64 traffic between New Albany and Louisville, was shut down September 9, 2011 by Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels after a significant crack was found in a load bearing element.
Some preparations are underway this week for the reopening of the span. That includes striping crews working to restore ramp lanes to their original configuration where I-64 meets I-265, the Lee Hamilton Highway.
Kentucky Transportation Cabinet personnel will monitor the areas where the temporary barriers were put up, making sure they are not removed.
The Indiana Department of Transportation has said the bridge should reopen to traffic by early next week if the weather cooperates.