A major transportation artery remains severed due to floodwaters along the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers. The US 51/US 60/US 62 Ohio River “Cairo” Bridge between Kentucky and Illinois remains closed where floodwaters have covered the bridge approach levee at the Kentucky end of the bridge.
Kentucky Transportation Cabinet engineers have barricaded the roadway to prevent truckers and motorists from moving Road Closed signs and driving off into the floodwaters near the 6 mile marker on US 51.
The river crossing normally carries about 5,000 vehicles a day across the Ohio River. About 35 percent is truck traffic carrying goods between Kentucky, Illinois, and nearby Missouri. The closure impacts north-south traffic on US 51 between Kentucky and Illinois and east west traffic along US 60 and US 62 into Kentucky and Missouri.
The roadway has been closed to vehicle traffic since about 12: 20 a.m., CST, Thursday, December 31. US 51 is also closed south of Wickliffe, KY, near the Ballard-Carlisle County Line.
The closure of the US 51 Ohio River “Cairo” Bridge creates about an 80 mile detour via the Interstate 24 Ohio River Bridge through Southern Illinois.
River level updates from the National Weather Service and the US Army Corps of Engineers show the river elevation will likely keep the river crossing between Wickliffe, KY, and Cairo, IL, closed until about Thursday, January 7. Engineers will continue checking the site several times a day as floodwaters are expected to drop slowly.
Engineers were expecting floodwaters to be about 6 ft. deep at one point on the levee near the Kentucky end of the bridge by today. However, the river forecast was lowered for the site. In 2011, swift currents sweeping across US 51 damaged shoulders of the roadway. Following that flood it took about a day of repair work and clearing of debris before traffic could be restored.