Tribune-Courier General Manager
AURORA– For an estimated 2,800 vehicles a day, the Eggner’s Ferry was a bridge to somewhere.
Its collapse last week has left many with no alternative but to take detours which will add to their daily travel time and costs.
Hardin resident Justin McGill traveled a route taking him over the bridge daily to his job at The Cadiz Record in Trigg County. What was a 32-mile trip through the Land Between the Lakes will now take McGill 58 miles, and nearly double his drive time to an hour.
“It’s definitely an inconvenience,” McGill said. “But that bridge and Lawrence Bridge over Lake Barkley have been less than ideal for drivers for decades now. Since no one was hurt, and if this increases the chance that we’ll get at least one of the new bridges sooner, maybe it’s worth a little extra drive.”
McGill is not alone. Last week the ambulance service at Murray-Calloway County Hospital said it is evaluating detour options for transfer traffic.
Jerry Gorrell, ambulance service director, said his transfers to Nashville-area hospitals will now be either taken south through Dover, Tenn. or north along the Purchase Parkway to I-24.
“Going south will get us there quicker, but the roads are better to the north. We are currently evaluating our long-term options and will make the route choice on a case-by-case basis,” Gorrell said. “Either route will be less effective than going through Land Between the Lakes but we will make the best of it.”
Most of the ambulance traffic that previously crossed the Eggner’s Ferry Bridge was carrying patients being transferred to hospitals in Nashville that offer additional services.
In addition to the inconvenience of the detour, regular commuters are likely to feel a pinch in their pocketbooks, as well. With the price of gas hovering around the $3.50 per gallon mark and forecasted to go higher, the additional travel will likely mean hundreds of dollars in fuel costs for many.
On Friday, Governor Steve Beshear and Lt. Gov. Abramson, along with other state and local officials, visited the site of the collapsed bridge and vowed to move quickly to address the situation.
“We had already committed in our new six-year highway plan to replace this bridge, because we know what an important route it is for our citizens in western Kentucky,” said Lt. Gov. Abramson. “We will shift our focus to determining how to restore that route as quickly and safely as possible.”
“I appreciate the quick response by the Governor and Kentucky Transportation Cabinet to help this situation in western Kentucky,” said Sen. Bob Leeper, of Paducah. “I look forward to working with them to explore all the available possibilities for a solution for the transportation needs of this area.
For now motorists should take Interstate 24 to the Purchase Parkway. Another possible route is to take Tenn. Hwy 79 to Hwy 140 and then take US 641 N to Murray. A final option is to take Hwy 79 to Hwy 119, which becomes Hwy 121 and heads to Calloway County.