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Deterioration of the deck of the U.S. 25 bridge in Williamstown has forced Kentucky Transportation Cabinet officials to close the bridge.
The bridge will close to traffic March 1 while construction of a $5 million replacement bridge continues. The Kentucky Transportation Cabinet had planned to keep the existing bridge in service until the new bridge was completed, but that plan was abandoned for safety reasons after recent inspections.
“The bridge has been deteriorating at an ever increasing rate,” Kevin Rust of the KTC District 6 said during a Feb. 7 Grant County Fiscal Court meeting. “About a week and a half ago, we actually had a truck punch through the existing deck and left a 4 by 2 foot hole where there was no concrete, just some re-steel. A steel plate is covering that hole.”
Emergency temporary measures have been taken to keep the structure in service until March 1, said Rob Hans, chief district engineer for Department of Highways District 6. But, with the new structure due to be completed this summer, Hans said long-term extensive repairs of the existing structure are not feasible.
Officials blame the rapid deterioration of the bridge’s deck on weather conditions and load factors. A signed detour will direct traffic to use Barnes Pike and KY 36. Williamstown Mayor Rick Skinner said the closure will create traffic problems.
“We think they should do repairs and make it safe to keep it open,” he said. “It will create so many traffic problems, especially problems with school traffic in the morning and afternoon.”
Several nearby businesses also will be affected, including Saratoga Auto Sales, Red Carpet Restaurant, Conrad Tires and Grant County Woodworks.
“It’s going to make it hard on our business,” said Dan Flanagan of Saratoga Auto Sales. “Business is hard enough in the southern part of Williamstown already. A lot of our business comes from out of town. A lot of them can just get off the interstate. Hopefully, it won’t affect us too much.”
Rust said the Williamstown Bridge was built in 1937 and most bridges are designed to last 65 to 75 years. KTC were able to expedite construction last year on a U.S. 27 bridge in Cynthiana by closing the bridge, said Rust.
“We were able to shave three to four months off the construction time and get the traffic on the new bridge before Christmas,” he said. “This year, that’s what we would like to in WIlliamstown. The goal would be to get traffic on the new bridge as soon as possible, but preferably by the time school starts.”