AURORA – State workers are performing maintenance work on the remaining spans of the U.S. 68/KY 80 Eggners Ferry Bridge. KYTC District 1 Chief Engineer Jim LeFevre said state crews are attempting to get routine maintenance work completed before the arrival of a contractor who will build a new span to replace a 322-foot section knocked out by a cargo vessel, the Delta Mariner, on Jan. 26.
The work comes just dayts after the announcement of $9 million in emergency relief funding for the repair and reopening of the bridge.
U.S. Rep. Ed Whitfield, Chairman of the House Subcommittee on Energy and Power, announced the U.S. Department of Transportation grant to the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet last week.
“This announcement is important news for people in the First District of Kentucky,” Whitfield said. “The Eggner Ferry Bridge is a vitally important roadway in the region, and this will help to restore this bridge in a timely manner and relieve the inconveniences caused by the February accident.”
Kentucky Transportation Secretary Mike Hancock said the state had sufficient funds to make the necessary emergency repairs, but the federal funding would ensure that state funds remained available for other projects.
“This means that work to restore this important connection across Kentucky Lake will not delay other highway improvement projects where state funds have been committed,” Secretary Hancock said.
In March, the state awarded a $7 million emergency contract to replace the missing span to Hall Contracting. The company has committed to restoring U.S. 68/KY 80 traffic on the bridge by Memorial Day weekend – a critical time for Western Kentucky’s lakes region, which depends heavily on summer tourism.
That work is already underway with the efforts of state workers.
On Monday, Keith Todd with the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet said state crews focusing on railing replacement and repairs, as well as deck patching.
“Our District 1 Bridge Crew has been working to make spot repairs to the bridge decking before the contractor arrives. We have a guardrail contractor starting work today to replace and repair several sections of tube railing along the bridge deck,” LeFevre said. “Our goal is to reduce the need for lane restrictions on the bridge once it reopens to traffic.”
The deck patching work is primarily on the remaining truss spans and along the approach spans on the Trigg County end of the bridge. LeFevre expects most of the ongoing maintenance work to be completed in about a week.
Engineers are currently finalizing the plans required for fabrication of steel for the new span. Hall Contracting plans to run a crew of about 40 around the clock to meet a May 27 deadline.
About 2,600 vehicles normally crossed the Eggners Ferry Bridge in an average day. The bridge is a critical link for tourism in Kentucky’s 15-county Western Lakes Region. The bridge serves as the western entrance to Land Between The Lakes National Recreation area, a major regional tourist attraction.
Plans to replace the Eggners Ferry Bridge and a companion bridge over nearby Lake Barkley with a basket-handle tied arch design are still in the pre-construction phase. The governor’s highway proposal as presented to the General Assembly provides a total of $330 million in construction funding for the two bridges.