More input needed for bridge replacement in western Ky.


PADUCAH, Ky. (KT) - State transportation officials in Kentucky and Illinois are seeking another round of public input on plans to replace the Cairo Bridge between Wickliffe, Kentucky and Cairo, Illinois.

Construction on a new bridge, which carries U.S. Routes 51, 60 and 62 traffic across the Ohio River, is expected to start in 5 to 10 years. The project team is offering the public an opportunity to review updated information then participate in an online survey to help guide the planning process.

The Kentucky Transportation Cabinet and Illinois Department of Transportation invite anyone with an interest in the project to visit now through Oct. 30, to review online displays and provide input via a survey. The information and survey are also available at the public libraries in Wickliffe and Cairo.

According to KYTC Project Manager Chris Kuntz, COVID-19 restrictions have limited the team’s ability to have in-person meetings, so they are providing the information online.

“We’ve developed displays similar to what we would share at a meeting and made them available through the project website,” he said. “Interested citizens have a 15-day window to review the online displays, as well as offer input and comments through the survey at the end.”

Preliminary engineering, environmental analysis and planning for a new bridge over the Ohio River continue, according to transportation officials.

Ensuring the public is aware of the phases of this proposed work, the various alternatives and providing opportunities for the public to become informed, and involved, is critical as project planning progresses. It is also important for the project team and KYTC to acknowledge stakeholder input and feedback to gain an understanding of the project's impact on nearby communities and the region.

A short video introduces a self-guided tour of the project story-map. The website provides current and updated information about the project, including alternatives considered, the proposed preferred alternative, the current fact sheet and a link to a brief survey. Those who choose to take the survey are asked to complete it no later than 5 p.m. CDT on Oct. 30.

“A final decision on the project will be made in collaboration with the Federal Highway Administration, KYTC and IDOT. Input from coordinating cooperating agencies, Section 106 consulting parties, the Citizens Advisory/Environmental Justice Group and the general public will be part of that decision-making process,” Kuntz said.

Responses from the public review survey will become a part of the official record for the project. Once compiled, the meeting record is available for review and copying after an open records request is submitted and approved. All open record requests must be submitted to the Office of Legal Services, Transportation Cabinet Office Building, 200 Mero Street, Frankfort, KY 40622.

Opened in 1938, the 82-year-old bridge is in fair condition, but has narrow lanes and shoulders. The purpose of the U.S. 51 Bridge Project is to improve cross-river mobility by addressing the functional limitations of the existing bridge and approach spans.

Located near the confluence of the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers, the bridge carries about 7,000 vehicles per day between Kentucky and Illinois. About 35 percent of that includes commercial trucks.


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