4 days into closure, KYTC believes I-71 roadwork going according to plan

The Kentucky Transportation Cabinet closed the five-mile stretch of I-71 south between I-265 and I-264 Friday night.
Published: Sep. 19, 2022 at 10:41 PM EDT
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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - The first work day without I-71 south forced Louisville drivers to find other ways to and from the office.

The Kentucky Transportation Cabinet closed the five-mile stretch between I-265 and I-264 Friday night, allowing crews to complete a $7.6 million asphalt resurfacing project.

KYTC suggested drivers use the following alternate routes:

  • Drivers on I-265 South to I-64 West to I-264 East to I-71 South
  • Drivers on I-265 North continue to U.S. 42 West (Exit 37) to I-264 East to I-71 South

Monday evening, WAVE News drove the city during the evening commute to see how drivers were adapting to the road closure.

“It’s been adding an extra 18 to 20 minutes to my commute and it’s been kind of a pain lately,” driver Ryan Hawkins said.

Despite the added time, Hawkins told WAVE News it’s a lesser of two evils. Before KYTC closed I-71, Hawkins said he drove it every day to and from work. He said the road conditions were so bad, it cost him hundreds in repairs.

“I just hit a pothole so hard that it shook the car so violently and it cracked the dash,” Hawkins said. “Yeah, it’s been rough, man. I mean, Ohio roads aren’t great, don’t get me wrong, but, 71 was pretty rough. It definitely needed to be repaved bad.”

KYTC Chief District Engineer Matt Bullock said he’s been monitoring the traffic situation since Friday night.

“With the work week and schools being in session, we saw a lot of surface streets on Westport Road and Brownsboro Road that saw some backups,” Bullock said. “But from what I saw, and from people out in the field, those were relatively short duration of backups.”

Bullock told WAVE News the project is going according to plan. He said crews have been able to work quickly and efficiently because of the warm, dry weather.

He said the decision to repave both lanes of I-71 simultaneously creates what’s called a hot joint, giving the road a longer shelf life than paving one lane at a time.

Bullock encouraged drivers to use the highway detours, as opposed to the side streets, because of the volume of cars they allow for.

He also encouraged people to use the WAZE app, and allow more time to make it to their destinations.

While some drivers voiced their displeasure with the project, others like Hawkins told WAVE News if the project improves the quality of I-71, it is worth the time.

“So it definitely needed to be done,” Hawkins said. “It is just one of those things that you kind of have to deal with and it kind of sucks for a little bit, but once we get passed it, everything should be okay.”

Bullock said he anticipates the project will be completed on time. Currently, I-71 South is scheduled to reopen Monday, Sept. 26.