Sherman Minton Bridge

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Sherman Minton Bridge
Sherman Minton Bridge from New Albany Indiana.jpg
The bridge as seen from the flood wall in New Albany
Coordinates38°16′42.44″N 85°49′19.34″W / 38.2784556°N 85.8220389°W / 38.2784556; -85.8220389Coordinates: 38°16′42.44″N 85°49′19.34″W / 38.2784556°N 85.8220389°W / 38.2784556; -85.8220389
Carries6 lanes (3 upper, 3 lower) of I-64 / US 150
CrossesOhio River
LocaleLouisville, Kentucky and New Albany, Indiana
Maintained byINDOT
DesignDouble-decked twin arch bridge
Total length2,052.9 ft (625.7 m)
Width42 ft (13 m)
Longest span800 ft (240 m)
Clearance above16.3 ft (5.0 m)
Daily traffic80,000/day
Sherman Minton Bridge is located in Kentucky
Sherman Minton Bridge
Sherman Minton Bridge
Location in Kentucky

The Sherman Minton Bridge is a double-deck through arch bridge spanning the Ohio River, carrying I-64 and US 150 over the river between Kentucky and Indiana. The bridge connects the west side of Louisville, Kentucky to downtown New Albany, Indiana.


In 1952 the "Second Street Bridge" was reaching peak traffic, and the K&I Bridge faring similarly. Arthur W. Grafton commissioned two studies in 1952 and 1953, with their results being a need for two bridges in Louisville; one crossing to Jeffersonville, Indiana, and the other to New Albany. Hoosiers as far as Scottsburg, Indiana (30 miles (48 km) away) were vastly against making any bridges toll, and many residents of Louisville were against toll bridges as well.[1] When the Interstate Highway System was announced by President Dwight D. Eisenhower, the solution became clear. The Federal government would finance 90% of both bridges, with Indiana paying 10% of the New Albany bridge, and Kentucky paying 10% of the Jeffersonville bridge.[1]

The New Albany bridge was given to Hazelet & Erdal, of Louisville to design in 1956. Construction began in June 1959, and was completed in August 1962. It was built at a cost of $14.8 million. In December 1962 Indiana governor Matthew E. Welsh announced it would be named for the former United States Senator and Supreme Court justice Sherman Minton, who was a native of New Albany.[2] The American Institute of Steel Construction in 1961 named it the most beautiful long-span bridge of the year.[1]

View of the bridge from the Main Street in New Albany

On February 5, 2009, a fifteen container coal barge lost power and was pushed downstream by the current and struck the bridge's central pier. The Indiana Department of Transportation (INDOT) closed the bridge for several hours while it was inspected for damage. When no damage was found, the bridge was reopened later the same day.[3]

Closure of 2011–2012[edit]

On September 9, 2011, Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels ordered the bridge closed. This was done after construction crews found cracks in the main load-bearing structural element. Experts from INDOT, the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet (KYTC), the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), and private engineering firms and academic institutions participated in determining the severity of this crack and others found on the bridge, and determine whether the bridge could be saved.[4][5][6]

It was initially feared the bridge would remain closed from several months to up to 3 years, and that the entire span would have to be either completely replaced or extensively renovated before the Sherman Minton Bridge could reopen to traffic. However, engineers determined the crack that initiated the bridge closure dated back to the bridge's original construction in the 1960s, but had not been discovered until the summer of 2011 because another structural component was covering it. On September 23, 2011, Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear and US Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood announced the 2.5-inch crack has been repaired, but the bridge would remain closed until crews completed an inspection of the remainder of the bridge.[7] Five to seven additional cracks were discovered during the following inspection in welded areas in a load-bearing steel beam. "The fissures were discovered in a type of steel frequently used in the 1950s and 1960s that is now known to be susceptible to cracking. ...". This necessitated the bridge being closed for an extended period of time for repairs. Repairs cost $20 million and ultimately took four months to complete.[8]

In a news release from the Indiana Department of Transportation, dated October 18, 2011, Governor Mitch Daniels announced that Louisville based Hall Contracting of Kentucky had been awarded the repairs contract in the amount of $13.9 million. A time frame of 135 work days was announce with an incentive of $100,000 per day to finish early. Likewise, a penalty of $100,000 would be deducted from the contract payments for each day over. Repair cost were covered by the Federal Highway Administration, who announced on September 30, 2011 that it would contribute 25% of the cost, with the remaining 75% being equally split between Indiana and Kentucky.

View of the Sherman Minton bridge from Floyd's Knobs

The contract attached 2,400,000 pounds (1,100,000 kg) of reinforcing steel plating along both sides of the bridge ties spanning 1,600 feet (490 m). The repairs along with regular maintenance increased the bridge's safety and reliability and extend its useful life by at least 20 years.[9]

Repairs were completed and the Sherman Minton Bridge reopened at 11:50 pm on February 17, 2012.[10]

Construction showing temporary support falsework.

Potential impact of tolling I-65 bridges[edit]

The bridge has been expected to see major increases in traffic following the completion of the Ohio River Bridges Project at the end of 2016. The project included repurposing the John F. Kennedy Memorial Bridge, which previously carried I-65 in both directions, for southbound traffic only; building the new Abraham Lincoln Bridge for northbound I-65 traffic; and building the Lewis and Clark Bridge to connect I-265 in the two states. The two I-65 crossings and the I-265 bridge are tolled to pay for the project, leaving the Sherman Minton as the only free interstate-quality river crossing in the Louisville area. One consultant who worked on a transportation study for the Kentucky government predicted that traffic on the Sherman Minton would increase by nearly 40% once tolling on the other bridges started.[11]


The bridge is a double-deck configuration—westbound traffic from Kentucky to Indiana travels on the upper deck of the bridge, while eastbound traffic from Indiana into Kentucky travels on the lower deck of the bridge. It is of similar construction to the Hernando de Soto Bridge in Memphis, Tennessee (but the de Soto Bridge is single-deck).

The steel used was T1 steel, which in the early 1960s was "innovative material" but is much weaker than modern steel. Classification of the bridge is "fracture critical" because if one part of the bridge should fail, the entire bridge could be at risk.[12]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c Kleber p.123
  2. ^ Kleber pp.123,418
  3. ^ Mike Dever (February 5, 2009). "Sherman Minton Bridge Reopens". WAVE 3 News. Retrieved September 12, 2011.
  4. ^ "Sherman Minton bridge shut down; crack found in bridge". Louisville, Kentucky: WDRB. September 9, 2011. Retrieved September 9, 2011.
  5. ^ "Sherman Minton Bridge closed indefinitely due to structural cracks". The Courier-Journal. Louisville, KY. September 9, 2011. Retrieved September 11, 2011.[dead link]
  6. ^ Barrouquere, Brett; Cappiello, Janet (September 12, 2011). "Traffic nightmare over closed Ohio River bridge". Associated Press. Archived from the original on August 20, 2014. Retrieved September 12, 2011.
  7. ^ "LAHOOD: One Sherman Minton Bridge crack repaired; no timetable for re-opening", WDRB-TV, September 23, 2011
  8. ^ "Sherman Minton Bridge repairs to take six months, cost $20M". The Courier-Journal. October 1, 2011. Retrieved October 1, 2011.
  9. ^ "Sherman Minton Bridge Repair to Require 135 Work Days" (PDF). Indiana Department of Transportation. Retrieved October 27, 2011.
  10. ^ "Motorists celebrate bridge reopening".
  11. ^ Sutter, Chris (November 17, 2016). "Many fear un-tolled bridges will wear quickly due to increased traffic". Louisville: WDRB. Retrieved November 18, 2016.
  12. ^ "Agency: Sherman Minton Bridge's Steel More Brittle". Associated Press. September 12, 2011. Archived from the original on March 23, 2012. Retrieved September 12, 2011.

'Works cited

  • Kleber, John E., ed. (2001). The Encyclopedia of Louisville. University Press of Kentucky. ISBN 0-8131-2100-0.

External links[edit]