The emergency closing of the Sherman Minton bridge needs to be addressed with adroitness. Newspaper accounts put the daily traffic flow across that span at upwards of 70,000 vehicles a day. The ability of the two remaining car bridges, the Kennedy Bridge and the Clark Memorial Bridge, are woefully inadequate to handle the sudden increase in traffic which they will face for the duration of the closing of the Sherman Minton Bridge.
Some have called for reliance on car pools,staggered shifts, and flexible work hours to meet the challenge. This wake up call underscores the foolishness of ignoring maintenance. It points out at the local level the compromised status of our infrastructure. It should represent a true national challenge, something like the "Sputnik moment" of the late fifties. It should force us to question the sense of putting all the eggs of our transportation system in the single basket of personal automobile commuting.
It should, and it could, but it probably won't. And it certainly won't by Monday morning when some kind of "geddon" will await those damned to make the trip by car to Louisville and back to meet the requirements of their jobs.
So here's a modest, perhaps counter intuitive, proposal of how we might muddle through this "cartastrophe" in the coming weeks.
Close the Clark Memorial Bridge to personal vehicles. Allow that span to carry only buses and emergency vehicles on the traffic lanes. Pedestrians and cyclists could use the sidewalks. It will do commuters little good to jump on a bus which will be stuck in barely moving traffic. There will be little incentive for car drivers to leave their cars parked if there is no expedited way of crossing the river. If buses are given free flow through designated streets and a green light at the Clark Bridge, I think those who see the buses rolling as the car bound sit mired in traffic may quickly decide that, at least during this particularly trying period, it would be wise to rely on mass transit.
It would be up to transportation experts to figure out how neophyte bus riders can be directed to their destinations once they've successfully crossed the river and de-bused at Union Station or some other central point. The first and biggest obstacle will be the bridge crossing itself.
The need to provide for easy cross-river travel of emergency vehicles is simply obvious on its face.
Once normalcy returns to daily traffic patterns it will be up to us as a community to recognize the vulnerability of our transportation non-system and proceed with a reasoned discussion of Twenty First Century alternatives. The alarm has sounded. Will there be sufficient will to meet the challenges and prepare for a better future?