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Cairo bridge to close for entire month of August

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Commercial truck crossing the Cairo bridge from the Illinois side of the Ohio River.

CAIRO (WSIL) -- Drivers who use the Cairo Bridge will have to find an alternate route starting Saturday.

The bridge will close for the entire month of August to allow for extensive maintenance work. The work will largely impact commercial trucking companies in the region who say their drivers will feel the impact, but the repairs are needed.

"We get a lot of trucks coming in from Kentucky, also from Missouri, the problem with, you get the bridge thing coming up now, is that a lot of people coming from Kentucky are going to have to travel an extra 100 miles," explains Robert Lee, who works in shipping and delivery for Cairo Dry Kilns, just north of the Cairo bridge.

Cairo Dry Kilns is just one of a handful of companies near the bridge impacted by the closure, something Lee said is a familiar situation. The bridge has been down to one lane since early June, as crews conduct bridge deck and joint work.

"It's kind of normal, like once a year it seems like they close it down," said Lee. "Either from the river being so high or, just work."

The bridge carries traffic for U.S. 51, U.S. 60 and U.S. 62 across the Ohio River. According to the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet, on average, more than 7,000 vehicles cross the bridge every day, more than 30% of them being commercial trucks.

Terminal Manager Tim Hodges with Schwerman Trucking says the closure will add cost and time for drivers who regularly use the bridge.

"Everybody knows the expression, 'time is money,' you're looking at increase cost both in mileage and in fuel and time," said Hodges. "So, it just impacts the trucking companies especially, across the board --and not just large carriers either."

The 30-day complete closure was chosen over impacting traffic with lane closures that would have lasted for more than 12 weeks. Back at Cairo Dry Kilns, Lee says it is just something they have to get done.

"They need to redo it, that's what they need to do, that's the bottom line."

According to the Transportation Cabinet, a recent traffic count for the Cairo bridge shows the numbers have substantially risen, with an additional 5,000 vehicles choosing to take the bridge in 2020 than in 2019.

Joe Rehana

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