5 years ago (it happened September 9, 2011), Louisville was hit with an unexpected 162 day I-64 shutdown at one of the worst possible locations – the Sherman Minton Bridge. That closure left Louisville with just two Ohio River crossings – the 4 lane Second Street Bridge (also known as the George Clark) and the overloaded Kennedy Bridge. Locals that were willing to take the scenic route had the option of the Bradenburg Bridge (which suddenly became the go to option for the family as they were in the Fort Knox area), or the Milton-Madison Bridge up north (despite the construction project that was going on at the time). Louisville was pretty much SOL and there was nothing that the locals could do about it.
At the time of the closure, there was bickering going on about building a new Ohio River bridge – which had been successfully stalled by a group of NIMBYs that allegedly had some strong financial backing by a wealthy suburb called Rivers Edge and assisted by the funding issues by both KYTC and INDOT at that time. At the same time there was another group that wanted was not only NIMBY on the new downtown bridge, but wanted I-64 in downtown Louisville removed.
What happened after the 162 day nightmare ended: KYTC and INDOT threw in the towel and decided to use tolls as funding for the new bridges, and the NIMBY group virtually went on to do an about face rather quietly.
The downtown bridge, which became the Abraham Lincoln Bridge, has since opened to traffic but tolling will not start for another month. The Kennedy Bridge is getting a much needed rehabilitation project that is nearing completion. The East End Bridge is nearing completion and is slated to open late this year or early in 2017.
While Shermageddon did hit Louisville with an wakeup call, it is still too soon to determine the long term effects. What it did show was that bickering over the fine details just adds to the problems.