Congressman Whitfield will be briefed on the status of efforts to move and place a replacement span on the US 68/KY 80 Eggners Ferry Bridge at Aurora. Congressman Whitfield worked with Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear and the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet to obtain $9 million in Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) emergency funds to help with the bridge restoration effort.
Hall Contracting successfully moved a replacement span for the US 68/KY 80 Eggners Ferry Bridge from an assembly area onto a barge today. The 4-hour transfer of the 300 ton steel truss was the first step toward getting the new span moved to the bridge.
The loading process moved in fractions of an inch at times. Some observers suggested it was like pouring molasses.
Workers used huge wooden beams to construct wooden pads to support the weight of the truss and the two massive cranes used to move it.
Efforts now turn to building a ramp that will allow the cranes to be moved onto a barge so they can be transported with the truss to the bridge site. Hall Engineers indicate moving the cranes from land to barge may actually be more difficult than moving the replacement span from land to barge.
With the amount of work required to load the cranes, engineers are now saying it may be Saturday or Sunday before they can have the replacement span and the equipment required to lift it ready for the 30-mile trip by water to the bridge.
Kentucky Transportation Cabinet spokesman Keith Todd says officials understand there is wide public interest in the span. However, curiosity about the project created a traffic hazard today when several people pulled off the roadway along Interstate 24 overlooking the Eddyville Riverport. He is urging everyone who wants to watch the span being transported to be safety-minded.
“There are a number of locations where you can safely watch the replacement span move down the lake,” Todd said. “We’re recommending the park at Old Kuttawa or the parking area along the LBL Canal off KY 453/The Trace. There may also be some overlooks along the Canal Loop Trail that would provide a good vantage point to watch the span pass by.”
Todd says motorists and pedestrians should not attempt to view the span from the Canal Bridge on KY 453.
“The Canal Bridge is not a safe place for pedestrians. The bridge provides an important link at the northern entrance to Land Between The Lakes, so we have to maintain traffic flow. We are asking law enforcement to take appropriate action to assure that traffic can move across the bridge at all times,” Todd noted. “We’re asking the public to use common sense and avoid actions that might create a traffic hazard that will endanger themselves or others.”
Highway officials are also asking boaters to stay away from the span as it is transported down the lake to avoid interfering with the operation.
Once the steel truss arrives at the bridge, weather conditions will dictate how quickly it can be lifted into place on the awaiting piers. After it is positioned, workers will immediately start placing forms and reinforcing steel required to pour a new concrete deck on the new section, a process that could take 10 days to two weeks to complete. Concrete on the new deck will then need several days to cure before traffic can be fully restored at the crossing.
The US 68/KY 80 Eggners Ferry Bridge has been closed since January 26th when the 8200 ton cargo ship Delta Mariner slammed into the bridge and knocked a single 322 ft. span into Kentucky Lake.
Hall Contracting has a $7 million contract to replace the missing span with a requirement that the bridge be reopened to traffic by Memorial Day weekend. The bridge serves as the western entrance to the Land Between The Lakes National Recreation Area, providing a key transportation link for summer tourism travel in the Kentucky’s Western Lakes Region.
The Eggners Ferry Bridge normally carries about 2,600 vehicles across Kentucky Lake each day at the Marshall-Trigg County Line between Aurora and Cadiz.
The Eggners Ferry Bridge was opened to traffic in 1931. It was raised in 1946 when Kentucky Lake was impounded. Efforts to construct a new bridge at the Eggners Ferry site and a new bridge over Lake Barkley at Canton are now in pre-design phase.