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ALERT: Floodwaters to Close the US 51 Ohio River “Cairo” Bridge around 4:00 p.m., CST, TODAY

ALERT: Floodwaters to Close the US 51 Ohio River “Cairo” Bridge around 4:00 p.m., CST, TODAY

Bill Stephens

February 22nd, 2019

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Based on floodwater levels and conditions along the Kentucky approach to the US 51 Ohio River “Cairo” Bridge connecting Kentucky and Illinois, the bridge will close sometime between 4:00 p.m. and 5:00 p.m., CST, today.

Floodwaters along the Kentucky approach to the bridge will sever a critical transportation link that carries north-south traffic on US 51 and east west traffic on US 60 and US 62.

The Kentucky Transportation Cabinet has pre-placed message boards and signage leading to the bridge between Wickliffe, KY, and Cairo, IL, to be prepared for the closing. Based on the river forecast, the bridge is likely to remain closed until around February 28th, possibly longer if the Ohio and Mississippi River valleys get additional rainfall.

The US 51 Ohio River “Cairo” Bridge provides a critical transportation connection for commuters and cross-country truckers traveling between Kentucky, Illinois, Missouri, and even Northwestern Tennessee. It is just a short distance from the US 60/US 62 Mississippi River Bridge and the I-57 Mississippi Bridge that connect Missouri and Illinois.

Approximately 4,700 vehicles across the bridge each day; about 35% of that is truck traffic.

The Kentucky Transportation Cabinet has sent out traffic alerts on the pending bridge closure to trucking companies and organizations across the nation.

In addition to closing the US 51 Ohio River “Cairo” Bridge between 4:00 and 5:00 p.m., today, floodwaters are likely to force US 51 to close south of Wickliffe near the Ballard-Carlisle County Line sometime in the next 24 to 48 hours. KYTC engineers are continuing to monitor that site. Additionally, state highways are blocked or restricted by floodwaters at more than 60 locations around the 12 counties of the KYTC District 1 region.

Closure of the US 51 Ohio River “Cairo” Bridge will present travelers with about an 80 mile detour to get from Wickliffe to Cairo via the Interstate 24 Ohio River Bridge at Paducah. The detour will be shorter for motorists and truckers who adjust their travel route before they reach the bridge.

Also known as The Cairo Bridge, the US 51 Ohio River “Cairo” Bridge between Wickliffe, KY, and Cairo, IL, carries US 51, US 60, and US 62 traffic across the Ohio River at US 51 Kentucky mile point 7.372. The bridge is forced to close when floodwaters cover US 51 at the 7 mile marker near the Kentucky end of the structure.

The US 51 Ohio River Bridge was constructed by the Cairo Bridge Commission as a toll facility and opened to traffic on November 11, 1936. Tolls were removed from the crossing on November 11, 1948, when the highway departments of Kentucky and Illinois took over maintenance of the structure.

The Cairo-Wickliffe Bridge is at Ohio River navigation mile point 980.4.

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