New viaduct bridge to open Friday

Published 12:00 am Thursday, November 18, 2021

Traffic switch, two-day closure starts Thursday morning

RUSSELL, Ky. — The new Russell, Kentucky viaduct bridge is set to open late on Friday following a two-day closure of the old viaduct bridge road to safely connect the new structure to downtown streets.

Beginning Thursday morning, crews will close Kentucky 244 (Bellefonte Street) between U.S. 23 and Clinton Street in Russell, Kentucky. All traffic will be detoured using the U.S. 23-Ferry Street intersection. Contractors will make accommodations for ambulances, fire trucks, and emergency vehicle access.

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While Kentucky 244 is closed, crews will connect the new viaduct bridge to Bellefonte Street by digging up the blacktop and rebuilding the street to link it to the new bridge.

By temporarily closing Kentucky 244 (Bellefonte Street) to make the traffic switch, contractors can open the new bridge safely and more quickly compared to opening it under flagged traffic conditions.

The street should reopen by late Friday – weather permitting – and all Kentucky 244 traffic to and from downtown Russell will switch to the new viaduct. Then, the permanent traffic pattern will be in place:

• Northbound U.S. 23: Russell-bound motorists will pass the Ironton-Russell bridge, then turn left at the old Kentucky 750 turn, then follow the new Kentucky 244 flyover across U.S. 23 to Bellefonte Street downtown.

• Southbound U.S. 23: Russell-bound motorists will turn right at the old Kentucky 750 turn, then follow the new Kentucky 244 flyover across U.S. 23 to Bellefonte Street downtown.

• Access to Kentucky 750: Traffic will turn onto the new Kentucky 244 flyover, proceed up the hill, then turn right at the new Kentucky 750 intersection.

Motorists should continue to use caution through the construction zone and remember that due to high traffic volumes — an average of 18,000 vehicles pass through the area each day — delays are likely when detours are in effect.

The Kentucky Transportation Cabinet’s $24 million Russell viaduct replacement project, which began in April 2020, not only replaces the city’s aging 1930s-era bridge but also improves overall traffic flow and safety.

It effectively relocates Kentucky 244, the main road into and out of downtown Russell. Instead of branching off U.S. 23 at the Ironton-Russell bridge, the Kentucky 244 turn has been moved northward and the road is carried by a new, state-of-the-art curved “flyover” bridge in a loop over U.S. 23 and adjacent railroad tracks into downtown.

Relocating the Kentucky 244 intersection will also ease area traffic congestion. When the heavily-traveled U.S. 23 and the Ironton-Russell bridge turn is reconfigured as a T-style intersection, it will reduce traffic signal wait times and improve traffic flow for 18,000 vehicles a day.