Work has begun to replace the twin I-81 bridges in Preble; D-O-T crews have installed a crossover to carry traffic during the construction.
According to Gene Cilento a D-O-T spokesperson the work includes replacing the bridge abutments, drainage improvements, and shoulder work. The existing steel bridges are being replaced with a precast concrete bridge.
The nearly 50 year old bridges weren't due to be replaced until 2015, but the northbound bridge was struck in 2012, the damage forced the decision to replace the bridges sooner.
The Northbound Bridge will be replaced first, initial plans called for all traffic to be diverted to Route 281 through Homer and back onto the interstate. Last week crews installed a paved crossover, now all traffic will be diverted to the southbound bridge.
That diversion will begin next month and is expected to last up to 14 days. Once the northbound bridge is complete, traffic will be restored. The southbound bridge will replaced next year.
The project has a price tag of close to $8 million.
The new bridges will be wider and will provide more clearance for taller traffic on Preble Road which is closed during the construction.