Govs. Mitch Daniels and Steve Beshear said Friday that Indiana and Kentucky have agreed on a solution to repair the Sherman Minton Bridge following three weeks of inspection, testing and analysis. The bridge between Louisville and New Albany, Ind. will remain closed during repairs, which are expected to take about six months. Preliminary cost estimates are $20 million. Contractor bids, which will be opened in mid-October, will include incentives for early completion, according to a press release from Beshear's office.
“We’ll do all we can to get the bridge opened as quickly as possible but there will be no shortcuts on safety. After considering multiple options, the experts agree the repair strategy that has been selected is the best option,” said Daniels, who ordered the bridge between New Albany and Louisville closed on Sept. 9 following discovery of a serious crack in a steel tie.
“Our goal throughout this review process was to develop an aggressive plan to repair and reopen it as soon as it is safe to do so,” Beshear said at a news conference on the Indiana side of the river. “I am grateful that Administrator Victor Mendez has personally pledged to expedite the necessary federal reviews of this project, and I am hopeful that with incentives and innovative management from the construction bidders that we will be able to reopen even sooner.”
To repair the bridge, new steel plating will be installed along both sides of the bridge tie that runs horizontally along the entire 1,600-foot structure. This will increase the bridge’s safety and reliability. The repairs will give the bridge at least 20 more years of useful life. During the additional bridge testing, other weld defects were found at numerous locations that confirmed closing the bridge was the appropriate decision for public safety.
Indiana, which has lead responsibility for maintenance of the bridge, will issue bid documents to contractors interested completing the bridge repair on Oct. 4. Bids will be awarded in mid-October. The Indiana Department of Transportation (INDOT) conducted a pre-bid meeting with contractors earlier this week. The two states share bridge costs equally.
An incentive of $100,000 per day will be offered for each day the winning contractor finishes work before the target completion date. The incentive is capped at $5 million or 50 days.