TheTimesTribune.com, Corbin, KY

Local News

August 13, 2012

Cracked beam found in I-75 bridge

Passing lane closed, bridge deemed safe for use

CORBIN — By Carl Keith Greene, Staff Writer. and Becky Killian, Managing Editor

The bridge on the northbound side of Interstate 75 on the Whitley/Laurel county line was found to have a crack in one of the four load-bearing steel beams that helps to support it.

According to Jonathan O. Dobson, public affairs officer of the Manchester Highway Department, highway inspectors found the crack during an inspection Thursday.    

The beam that is cracked is the second from the west side of the northbound lane — the left lane for northbound drivers, he explained.

As a result, the passing lane will remain closed until the bridge is repaired, he said.

Dobson said the bridge is sound and will continue to safely bear the weight of passing traffic until the repair is made. He added that three of the bridge’s load-bearing beams are completely intact — two of the three are the beams that support the slow lane of traffic, which remains open.

If the crack had been determined to be severe enough, Dobson said the bridge would have been closed.

Highway Department crews try to inspect all bridges at least every two years.

The bridge had been inspected in March of this year by Kentucky highway crews, he said. There were no cracks at that time, though they determined it needed new bearings and those were replaced in May.

Dobson said while his agency remains hopeful a repair can be scheduled sooner, it is possible the bridge’s passing lane could remain closed through Labor Day.

“Contractors who specialize in this type of repair and all are occupied at the moment. It may be a month before we are able to bring contractors in,” Dobson said.

Those crews that specialize in bridge repairs are in demand now with aging bridges across the U.S. needing repairs, Dobson explained.

The slow lane across the I-75 bridge will remain open while repairs are made.

The bridge is 486 feet long and 33 feet wide. It, along with the entire stretch of I-75 through Kentucky, opened to traffic in 1969.

The Kentucky Transportation Cabinet has warned drivers to be aware of the work zone and use safe driving habits when driving through the area.

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