Local bridge restrictions set businesses back

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Reporter: Mychaela Bruner
Photographer: Justin Jones

BALLARD COUNTY, Ky—Rethinking your route. If you usually take the US 51 Ohio River Bridge, you may want to think twice. Starting at 9 a.m. Monday, you can expect some serious traffic delays while crossing the bridge between Wickliffe, Kentucky and Cairo, Illinois.

Fresh produce farmer Will Martin crosses the bridge three to four times a week. He said the bridge restrictions will put him back a couple hundred dollars every week.

"Normally on a Saturday we will sell a pick up load so we got to go right back in the morning and get another load," said Martin.

The work zone on the US 51 Ohio Bridge will turn a six mile trip into an 80 mile detour for restricted vehicles.

Martin said that 80 mile detour will put him and his business at a huge disadvantage. "I could pull my trailer and bring twice as much back in one trip. Normally, I pack everything I need in one load. Now, it's going to take three loads to make up for one."

Martin said it is not just him that is losing money. "There's no telling how much revenue that people would have spent in the state of Kentucky this year on account of that bridge, but now they won't because they're not going to drive 80 miles out of the way," said Martin.

This project means that any vehicle wider than seven feet will not be allowed to cross the bridge for about eight weeks. Martin said, "It isn't just me, it's every farmer around here, every farmers around here has tractor and trailer rigs that they haul that grain with."

Martin said that eight weeks cannot pass soon enough.

Trucks, buses, motor homes and vehicles pulling trailers will not be allowed to cross the bridge during that eight week time span. Police will be monitoring the work zone 24-hours a day to make sure those drivers do not try to sneak across. Kentucky Public Information Officer Keith Todd said the project will patch up decks and replace ten joints on the bridge.

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