KYTC: U.S. 51 Ohio River “Cairo” Bridge reopens to traffic

US 51 bridge back open

(KFVS) - The U.S. 51 Ohio River “Cairo” Bridge reopened on Monday, March 11 around 10 a.m.

This is according to Keith Todd with the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet.

The US 51 Ohio River “Cairo” Bridge is OPEN. The bridge reopened about 10 a.m., today, about an hour earlier than expected. Kentucky Transportation Cabinet engineers spent several hours this morning clearing mud and debris from the roadway, using asphalt millings to replace shoulders that were eroded by floodwaters, and removing barricades that had been in place since February 22nd. Please see our timeline for additional details. He’s a video of work required to reopen the bridge this morning.

Posted by KYTCDistrict1 on Monday, March 11, 2019

Reopening the bridge was based on floodwater levels and conditions along the Kentucky approach to to the bridge, connecting Kentucky and Illinois.

Floodwaters along the Kentucky approached the bridge and forced KYTC crews to close it at 4 p.m., on Friday, February 22. The closure turned a normal five mile commute between Wickliffe, Ky., and Cairo, Ill., into an almost 90 mile detour. The detour is shorter for truckers and cross-country travelers who adjust their travel route before reaching the bridge.

Due to floodwater and the rate the Ohio River was rising, KYTC closed the U.S. 51 Ohio River “Cairo” Bridge on Friday, Feb. 22 at 4 p.m. (Source: KFVS)
Due to floodwater and the rate the Ohio River was rising, KYTC closed the U.S. 51 Ohio River “Cairo” Bridge on Friday, Feb. 22 at 4 p.m. (Source: KFVS)

Message boards, barricades and other traffic control equipment were in place to alert drivers.

Because the bridge, also called the Cairo Bridge, closed, travelers could to get from Wickliffe to Cairo via the Interstate 24 Ohio River Bridge at Paducah.

According to KYTC, a previous forecast indicated that river levels would crest with floodwaters at the edge of the road along U.S. 51, but this has changed.

In addition to closing for rising floodwater, Illinois Department of Transportation officials said closures on the bridge are scheduled to begin on Monday, March 18 at 8 a.m. for inspection.

The bridge carries approximately 4,700 vehicles over the river each day.

It connects with the US 60/US 62 Mississippi River Bridge to Bird’s Point, Missouri, at the southern tip of Illinois.

In addition to the Cairo bridge closure, KYTC said floodwater will likely close U.S. 51 South of Wickliffe near the Ballard-Carlisle County line.

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