Photo courtesy Indiana Dept. of Transportation
Cracks discovered during a routine September inspection of the double-deck structure, which spans the Ohio River between Kentucky and Indiana, forced an immediate shutdown and set of a $13.9-million repair job.

Repairs to cracks on the Interstate 64 Sherman Minton Bridge, a double-deck structure spanning the Ohio River between Kentucky and Indiana, will cost 30% less than initially estimated and require only four-and-a-half months to execute rather than the six months anticipated by the Indiana Dept. of Transportation, INDOT officials say.   

The contract, awarded Oct. 18 to Louisville-based Hall Contracting of Kentucky, indicates repairs to the 1,600-ft, tied-arch structure will cost $13.9 million rather than $20 million and be completed by March 2 rather than mid-April. Repairs began on Oct. 19.

The program involves bolting 2.4 million lbs of structural steel plating to tension ties located beneath the bridge's lower deck. The 49-year-old bridge, which consists of two 800-ft main spans, was closed in September upon discovery of six cracks in the butt welds of the ties.

“We're essentially replacing those ties while they're in place,” says Tom Roberts, manager of Hall's heavy highway division.

Other bids ranged from $16.4 million to $23.9 million, says INDOT spokesman Will Wingfield. “I can't say why we got the range we did, though we're seeing a lot of bids coming in lower than expected as a result of poor economic conditions.”

“Since we didn't develop the original cost estimates, I can't comment on differences between those figures and the figures contained in our bid,” says Roberts.

Others bidding to repair the cracks included American Bridge Co., Coraopolis Pa.; F.H. Paschen, Chicago; and Walsh Construction Co., Crowne Point, Ind.

While repairs involving structural plating are fairly common, the scope of the Sherman Minton project is not. “The project extends 1,600 lineal feet,” says Roberts. “We've never executed a project of this order requiring so much poundage.”

Because Sherman Minton carries up to 80,000 vehicle per day, bids were evaluated both on the basis of cost and how quickly repairs could be implemented. Hall will receive $100,000 for each day it finishes early, with a cap of $5 million. The firm also will be fined $100,000 per day if repairs exceed 135 days.

The 57-year-old Hall performed repairs to the Salt River Bridge in West Point, Ky., in 2009  and currently is involved in a riverfront extension in Owensboro, Ky.