Gov. Steve Beshear Tuesday visited the site on which workers will assemble the steel truss for a replacement span to repair and reopen the damaged Eggners Ferry Bridge on Kentucky Lake. Crews from Hall Contracting of Kentucky Inc. are fabricating the steel components at the company’s yard in Louisville and shipping them to the Lyon County Riverport, outside Eddyville, for assembly.
The completed truss will be transported by barge upriver to the bridge site and hoisted into place. The company will then construct a deck for the bridge. Under the company’s contract, the bridge is to be open to traffic no later than May 27. The date was chosen to assure traffic is restored in time for the summer tourism season which is critically important to tourism in Western Kentucky’s Lakes Region.
“We have been single-minded about repairing the Eggners Ferry Bridge and restoring a traffic route that is critical to Western Kentucky,” Beshear said in a statement issued by his office. “It’s encouraging to know that, as a Kentucky company, Hall Contracting shares our sense of urgency.”
The bridge, which carries U.S. 68 and KY 80 across Kentucky Lake between Marshall and Trigg counties, was knocked out of service the night of Jan. 26, when a cargo vessel, the Delta Mariner, crashed into and demolished a 322-foot span.
On March 8, the governor announced that Hall Contracting, based in Louisville, had been awarded a $7 million emergency contract from the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet to build a replacement span. In designing its project, the company had access to the bridge’s original plans and drawings, which date to 1930.
The bridge, built in 1932, is listed as functionally obsolete and, like a similarly aged bridge on nearby Lake Barkley, is scheduled for replacement by the Transportation Cabinet. Meantime, however, it serves as the western entrance to Land Between the Lakes National Recreation Area and is the only span across Kentucky Lake between Kentucky Dam and Paris Landing, Tenn. Loss of the bridge has forced area residents and visiting travelers into long detours to get from one side of the lakes to the other.