PADUCAH, Ky. (KFVS) - The U.S. 51 Ohio River “Cairo” Bridge is open to normal, two-lane traffic.
According to the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet, a work zone with one-lane traffic was taken down on Friday afternoon, October 23.
Since work started on June 8, the work zone created delays of up to an hour or more during peak travel periods at the Ohio River crossing between Wickliffe, Ky. and Cairo, Ill.
The bridge was closed to all traffic during most of August for road improvements along the Kentucky approach embankment. That work included more than 2 miles of new concrete surface, a section of new asphalt pavement that raised the elevation of the driving surface and the use of millings to reinforce shoulder areas.
The road maintenance raised the pavement elevation about 16 inches to reduce the length of closures during extreme flooding.
The target completion date was originally October 1. According to KYTC, the work zone timeline had to be extended due to a delay in the fabrication of steel finger joints for the bridge deck.
The U.S. 51 Ohio River “Cairo” Bridge serves as a north-south connector for U.S. 51, as well as a critical east-west transportation corridor for U.S. 60 and U.S. 62. The bridge carries about 7,000 vehicles per day between Kentucky and Illinois.
According to KYTC, about 35 percent of that is commercial trucks. The truck volume increases during harvest season as Kentucky farmers haul their grain to elevators in Cairo and Mound City.
Construction on a new bridge is expected to start in about 5 to 10 years.
KYTC is looking for community feedback on the project. You can click here for more information.
The U.S. 51 Ohio River Bridge connects Kentucky and Illinois about 5 miles north of Wickliffe at Kentucky mile point 7.372. Also known as the Cairo Bridge, it immediately connects with the U.S. 60/U.S. 62 Mississippi River Bridge that carries traffic between Illinois and Missouri.
The U.S. 51 Ohio River “Cairo” Bridge opened to traffic on Nov. 11, 1938. The Cairo-Wickliffe Bridge is at Ohio River navigation mile point 980.4 near the confluence of the Ohio and Mississippi rivers.