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KYTC: Ohio River can re-open to traffic as officials continue to inspect Brent Spence Bridge

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Posted at 8:24 PM, Nov 14, 2020
and last updated 2020-11-14 20:38:45-05

The Ohio River can re-open to traffic Saturday night following the results of ongoing inspections to determine the Brent Spence Bridge's integrity, according to a release from Kentucky Transportation Cabinet officials.

On Friday afternoon, KYTC and the Ohio Coast Guard closed the river to traffic after concern that a steel component critical to support the bridge had been damaged in a fiery crash involving two semis earlier in the week. The bridge has been closed until further notice, with officials estimating it could be weeks before traffic is allowed back on the bridge.

Saturday evening, KYTC officials said lab testing on the steel beams had come back and showed that, despite the 1,500-degree heat the beams endured for hours, the metal's hardness had not been altered.

A semitractor-trailer hauling potassium hydroxide collided with another semitrailer that had jackknifed on the bridge just seconds earlier. The wreckage eventually erupted into a fireball that burned for hours, putting into question the integrity of the bridge.

"The lab testing, together with testing of the metal’s hardness that specialists conducted on site today, confirmed the components maintained their integrity, and therefore KYTC officials recommended to the Coast Guard that the river be reopened," a press release from KYTC states.

A team of around 30 inspectors has been working to test damaged elements of the bridge since Thursday.