Drivers in Daviess County using a busy road between Owensboro and Calhoun will need to find a detour starting tomorrow.
That’s because the Panther Creek Bridge on Kentucky 81 will be closed for repairs and repainting.
Kentucky transportation officials say nearly 5,200 vehicles a day, ranging from cars to farm equipment use this bridge. But all those vehicles will be detoured around the bridge as work starts. People living and working near here say the bridge needs work, but say they’ll have to adjust to the closing.
“81 between Owensboro and Calhoun is usually pretty busy. Especially on the weekends, or on rush hour at 5:00 PM,” says Alex Vanover of Daviess County.
“You can see there is a little bit that needs to be done,” adds Kristen Cain, who is one of the managers at Even Steven Neighborhood Market, just south of the bridge, which people use to get to her business, and what she uses to get back home.
“Most of the people come out here they gas, get something to eat for lunch. A lot of our farmers, they stop in for lunch and gas on their way to harvest,” Cain says. But soon, she and others won’t for more than a month.
“I work on the south side of the bridge, but I live on the other side of the bridge, and instead of my regular four-minute commute, it can end up being a 10-15 minute commute.”
Kentucky transportation officials say contractors will be repairing and repainting the bridge, built in the mid-1930s. Keith Todd of the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet says the closure is needed to get work done quicker. Contractors have 45 days to finish work.
“I know there are some people who say this is not a good time to have a closure for bridge work, but there is no good time to do bridge work,” says Todd.
Cain’s worried about losing business during the closure, but adds some customers won’t let it stop them.
“We still have our community here, our faithful, friendly village customers that come in every day,” she says.
Todd also says some farmers who have land on both sides of the bridge will have longer commutes back and forth, but even if they went with a lane restriction, heavy machinery wouldn’t have been able to cross it.
The work could be done as early as September 17th, weather permitting.
(This story was originally published August 1, 2018)