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KY Transportation Cabinet Schedules Explosive Demolition of Old US 68/KY 80 Lake Barkley Bridge at Canton

KY Transportation Cabinet Schedules Explosive Demolition of
Old US 68/KY 80 Lake Barkley Bridge at Canton

The old Lake Barkley Bridge as seen on March 21, 2018 from the live bridge cameras.

PADUCAH, Ky. (March 21, 2018) – The explosive demolition of two main spans on the old U.S. 68/KY 80 Lake Barkley Bridge at Canton has been tentatively scheduled for Wednesday, April 11, weather permitting.

Over the last month, a demolition crew removed the concrete deck from the 86-year-old structure. A specialized demolition crew completed a detailed survey of the two steel Parker truss spans to plan placement of explosives to bring down the old bridge.

Use of explosives to bring down the spans will require highway traffic across the New U.S. 68/KY 80 Lake Barkley Bridge to be halted for several hours the morning of the blast. River traffic will also be halted for up to 24 hours the day of the blast.

Once the main steel truss structures are dropped into Kentucky Lake, cranes will move to the site to remove the fallen steel. The Coast Guard requires the contractor to clear the main channel within 24 hours to minimize disruptions to commercial river traffic.

“Our engineers will be meeting with the contractor and the explosives team daily starting about five days prior to the detonation date to determine if weather conditions will allow the use of explosives to bring down the main spans,” said Mike McGregor, Kentucky Transportation Cabinet (KYTC) District 1 chief engineer. “The potential conditions that would cause a delay would be heavy rain or thunderstorms with lightning.”

The contractor and KYTC personnel will be joined by Kentucky Emergency Management, the Coast Guard and law enforcement agencies to provide security on the day of the blast. A 1,500-foot clear zone will be enforced around the site.

Unlike the explosive demolition of the old Eggners Ferry Bridge, which had a ready-made overlook from the Kenlake State Park amphitheater, the explosion of the old Lake Barkley Bridge will not be as easily observed by area residents.

“There are limited viewing areas along the Land Between the Lakes side of the lake,” McGregor said. “An overlook area at the end of Eleanor Way, just upstream from the old bridge out of the clear zone, will provide the best view. Other potential observation sites are either in the clear zone or at locations where the new bridge blocks the view of the old structure. We’ll develop a final schedule and provide the public with guidelines for observing the explosion as we get closer to the tentative date.”

Constructed as a toll bridge, the old U.S. 68/KY 80 Lake Barkley Bridge initially opened to traffic on February 6, 1932. Tolls were removed in August 1945. Also known as the Henry R. Lawrence Memorial Bridge and the Canton Bridge, the 3,104-foot-long structure has two 321-foot Parker through truss main spans and a 121-foot Pratt deck truss.

In 1963, the old bridge was elevated 10.5 feet to allow additional clearance for the impoundment of Lake Barkley.

PCL Civil Constructors, of Denver, is the prime contractor on the $128 million project to remove the old structure and construct the new bridge at the Canton crossing. The new 3,805-foot-long bridge has a 550-foot basket-handle arch main span that is a twin of the U.S. 68/KY 80 Eggners Ferry Bridge over Kentucky Lake at Aurora just under 9 miles away.

The new U.S. 68/KY 80 Lake Barkley Bridge, located at U.S. 68 milepoint 8.596 in Trigg County, is 9 miles west of Cadiz and serves as the eastern entrance to Land Between the Lakes National Recreation Area. The bridge is at Cumberland River navigational milepoint 63.1.

While the new bridge was opened on Feb. 12 to two-way traffic on what will become the eastbound lanes, construction of a multi-use path, completion of permanent roadway connections, painting of the main arch, and other finish work will continue along the new bridge for the next year. The new Lake Barkley Bridge is expected to be ready for four-lane traffic late this year.

NOTE: You can view the live Lake Barkley bridge cameras here.

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Kentucky Lake Sunset
Photo by Shawn Dunnaway

Sunsets at Kentucky Lake are special. You can find them on the eastern banks of Kentucky Lake looking west across a mile of ripples and waves. There's nothing quite like experiencing a sunset on Kentucky Lake.