Owensboro Bridge

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Owensboro Bridge
Blue Bridge from water.jpg
Coordinates 37°46′45″N 87°06′33″W / 37.7792°N 87.1092°W / 37.7792; -87.1092Coordinates: 37°46′45″N 87°06′33″W / 37.7792°N 87.1092°W / 37.7792; -87.1092
Carries SR 161/ KY 2262
Crosses Ohio River
Locale Owensboro, Kentucky
Official name Owensboro Bridge
Other name(s)

Glover Cary Bridge (unofficial honorific). The Owensboro entrance to the bridge features a "stack" of three plaques that were placed there when the bridge opened in 1940. The smallest of these, on the bottom of the stack, notes that the bridge was "Dedicated to the Memory of Glover H. Cary." But the bridge was never officially named for Cary.

Blue Bridge (unofficial local nickname).
Design Continuous truss bridge
Material Steel
Total length 615 m
Longest span 230 m
Designer Frank Masters
Engineering design by Modjeski & Masters
Opened 1940
Daily traffic 7,292[1]
Toll Until 1954
Owensboro Bridge at night

The Owensboro Bridge is a continuous truss bridge that spans the Ohio River between Owensboro, Kentucky and Spencer County, Indiana. Dedicated to the memory of the late U.S. Congressman Glover H. Cary (1885–1936) and often called the "Glover Cary Bridge," the bridge opened to traffic in September 1940. It originally was a toll bridge, but tolls were discontinued in 1954.

The bridge was funded through a $1.03 million federal grant, part of President Franklin D. Roosevelt's New Deal program, and public fundraising efforts. At first, the bridge connected Kentucky Highway 75 to Indiana Highway 75; in 1954, Kentucky 75 was redesignated U.S. Highway 431 and Indiana 75 became U.S. Highway 231.

In the fall of 2002, when the William H. Natcher Bridge was completed, about six miles upstream, U.S. 231 was rerouted onto the Natcher bridge and the former U.S. highway became the southern leg of an extended State Road 161.

The bridge was closed temporarily for a day and a half the weekend of March 13, 2011, due to the need for emergency repairs to the bridge deck with traffic temporarily detoured over the William H. Natcher Bridge. Following that emergency repair, transportation officials pressed ahead with planning and design on a full-depth deck rehab that was already scheduled for bidding in April 2011.

In early 2011, the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet renumbered the highway across the bridge (which was U.S. 231 from 1954 to 2002 and Kentucky Route 2155 thereafter) as Kentucky Route 2262, which is a newly designated state highway that follows J.R. Miller Boulevard from Kentucky Route 54 to the Indiana state line. Kentucky 2155 now terminates at the intersection of J.R. Miller Blvd. and East Fifth Street.


The bridge originally was painted silver but was repainted blue sometime in the early 1970s. Over time, local residents have come to call the bridge "the Blue Bridge."

In anticipation of a repainting of the bridge initially scheduled for 2006, the local city beautification group PRIDE of Owensboro-Daviess County (Public Responsibility In Designing our Environment) sponsored an August 2003 straw poll to help determine what color to paint the bridge. PRIDE gave participants a choice of "blue," "teal," "brick red," or "green" – or participants could "write in" their own preferences.

Of the 8,245 participants in the poll, 44 percent preferred to keep the bridge its current blue. A majority of participants – 56% – preferred that the bridge be painted a different color, with 20 percent opting for teal, 18 percent for brick red, 12 percent for green, and 6 percent suggesting various "write-in" colors.[2]

Subsequently, Kentucky and Indiana highway officials indicated the bridge was scheduled for its next repainting in about 2017 (which happens to be Owensboro's bicentennial) at an estimated cost of $17 million. The repainting was rescheduled to begin in the spring of 2013.[3]

The bridge closed to traffic on May 12, 2013 for its first paint job since 1987. Originally planned to be done over the course of two construction seasons, by completely closing the span to traffic, the job was able to be fully completed (including some concrete repairs) by November 27, 2013.

Structural condition[edit]

Owensboro Bridge facing down river

Following the collapse of the I-35W bridge in Minneapolis, Minnesota in August 2007, Kentucky officials (including Governor Ernie Fletcher) sought to reassure motorists that Kentucky's bridges are safe by conducting a special safety review of all long-span bridges at that time. The Owensboro Bridge was subject to a detailed biennial inspection in August 2008. Kentucky and Indiana highway officials conducted a joint walk-through inspection of the structure on September 22, 2008.

On July 5, 2011, the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet closed the bridge to all traffic for a $3 million partial rehab of the bridge deck after a large hole developed in the concrete driving surface. Hall Contracting of Louisville was the prime contractor on the 3-month project. The project, which saw 40% of the bridge's deck replaced, was completed and the bridge reopened to traffic on September 30, 2011—three days prior to the October 3 deadline imposed by KYTC on the contractor.

Prior to its reopening, the bridge was opened to pedestrians and bicyclists for "Bridge Day" on Sept. 30; thousands of visitors crossed the 72-year-old span between the hours of 8:00 AM and 6:00 PM, when crews began preparing to reopen the bridge to auto traffic, which occurred at 6:30 PM.

See also[edit]

Coordinates: 37°46′45.08″N 87°06′33.12″W / 37.7791889°N 87.1092000°W / 37.7791889; -87.1092000


  1. ^ "Commonwealth of Kentucky" (PDF). Commonwealth of Kentucky. Retrieved 23 April 2012.
  2. ^ Keith Lawrence, "Bridge Ballot: Blue is the Best," Owensboro Messenger-Inquirer, September 5, 2003.
  3. ^ http://migration.kentucky.gov/newsroom/governor/20121219bluebridge.htm Retrieved 20 December 2012.