Winter Weather Closes Bridge

Winter Weather Closes Bridge
By: Arnold Wyrick

The winter weather took it's toll on Heartland bridges, and even shut down one in Kentucky.

The Kentucky Department of Highways shutdown the Brookport Bridge late Saturday night, it remained closed for most of the day Monday. "Normally we go ahead and shut it down until conditions improve," says Harold Gibson. "And this normally happens whenever we have the rain and then the ice. When we have a normal snow, we don't have any problems," Gibson said.

The bridge was originally opened to two lanes of traffic back in 1929. Then in 1977 the highway department pulled up the concrete roadway and replaced it with the lighter steel grid roadway. But the renovated design doesn't mix well with winter weather.

"We can't plow a surface like that. And you can't put any treatment on the roadway, like other bridges, because the salt will just fall right through," Gibson said. So all that they could do was wait for warmer temperatures to reopen the bridge that connects Southern Illinois to Western Kentucky.

And drivers who couldn't wait had to find another way across the Ohio River. "It's a pain, it's easier for me to just go over here, because all my family lives in Metropolis and I live on this side of Paducah," said Jesse Hall.  "So now I've got to go all the way around, and it's a pain," said Hall as he steered his SUV away from the bridge.

The Kentucky Department of Highways has no plans at this time to change the design of the bridge. But they will be giving it a new coat of paint in 2004. That's estimated to cost the state $2.5 million dollars.