At midnight, between Dec. 30 and 31, the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet plans to close two sections of U.S. 51 in Ballard County. The closure includes the Ohio River “Cairo” Bridge, that hasn’t closed since the great flood of 2011. If you have to detour through Southern Illinois, that’s 80 miles out of your way.
For Windy Hoppe, a cashier at Indian Hills Trading Post, these flood waters are a painful reminder to the great flood of 2011. “Without the traffic, we have no business,” Hoppe added.
”It shut the store down,” she said. Hoppe says the store she works for is dependent on truck drivers and people coming in and out of Ballard County.
The Kentucky transportation cabinet estimates more than 5,500 vehicles cross the Ohio River each day and 35 percent of that is trucks carrying goods among Missouri, Illinois, and Kentucky. Hoppe said she will likely not be clocking in over the next week, because it’s an 80 mile detour. She said “ If I do attempt to come to work, I'll have to drive around and it's going to be an hour and half, two hours before I can get here.”
Kentucky Transportation Cabinet spokesman Keith Todd wants to remind everyone to be safe. “This is not something that's going to go away very soon,” he said. The closures are expected to last a week.
He says a big problem with blocking the roads off is people tossing the barricades aside and cars ending up in the water. Todd also tells us the detours are flood-prone also. Not being familiar with back roads in southern Illinois, he says, could be bad for drivers. Todd says don’t blindly trust your GPS, and try to avoid driving at night.