Local bridge restrictions cause traffic headaches

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Reporter - Mychaela Bruner
Photographer - David Dycus

ALEXANDER COUNTY, Ill. - Detours and turnarounds might force you to rethink your driving route. It is bumper to bumper traffic on the US 51 bridge between Wickliffe, Kentucky and Cairo, Illinois as Monday marks the first day of vehicle restrictions. If you plan on crossing the bridge, you better hope your car is no wider than seven feet. That means no semis, mobile homes or vehicles trailers.

The restrictions are turning what would normally be a six-mile drive into an 80-mile detour for many. Some drivers complain there are not enough signs to give them warning. While signs are located on the Kentucky and Illinois side, Charles Althoff volunteers at the rest stop outside of Cairo and he says there is just not enough warning.

Althoff said, "It's easy for them driving down the highway to miss the sign that's there. Once you pass them up, if you didn't take the time to read them, you'll be in trouble.

Truck driver Mike Scroggins did just that and was stopped by Alexander County police and asked to turn around. "Trying to turn around in this little area I'm in, is kind of hard because I'm like 83 feet long. That's the hassle part of it," said Scroggins.

Alexander County Sheriff Timothy Brown said more signs would certainly help. Brown said, "When you put signs up like that you think you have enough and sometimes you just don't.

Sheriff Brown said there are more warning signs placed on the Illinois side than the Kentucky side. He said within the next 24 hours, he expects additional signs to be up on the Kentucky side to warn drivers about the bridge restrictions.

Brown said he will have officers present 24/7 at the bridge to enforce the vehicle restrictions. The Kentucky Transportation Cabinet said the project will restrict all vehicles wider than seven feet for about eight weeks.

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