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Dec. 1 target date set for main span placement on New Eggners Ferry Bridge

November 23, 2015 | Press Release from KyTC

Kentucky Transportation Cabinet engineers have set Dec. 1, weather permitting, as the target date for placing the 550-foot main span – a $20 million steel basket-handle arch – on the new U.S. 68/KY 80 Eggners Ferry Bridge.

The arch – 110 feet tall and 5.1 million pounds – has been constructed and painted on barges at the east end of the construction site. Once a final date is set for the move, the arch will be floated next to the main piers and jacked about 80 feet into the air. Barges then will maneuver the span between piers 4 and 5 across the Kentucky Lake navigation channel and the arch will be lowered into position.

KYTC District 1 Chief District Engineer Mike McGregor said the process will take 10 to 12 hours to complete and will require restrictions on both river traffic and the public.

"Floating the new span into place is something akin to a space shuttle launch.  The weather will have to be near-perfect. The navigation channel will be closed to commercial river traffic. Pleasure boat traffic will also be restricted around the site," McGregor said. "The existing bridge will be closed to vehicle traffic and detoured for up to 24 hours while the span is being moved into place."

McGregor noted that when the replacement span on the existing bridge was floated into place in May 2012, a crowd of about 3,000 people gathered to observe.  KYTC personnel, the U.S. Coast Guard, area emergency management agencies, police agencies, and the contractor will work to establish a 2,000-foot clear zone around the construction area during this move.

Cherokee Park, on the Marshall County side of Kentucky Lake, is recommended as a prime observation point for the public. It is just downstream from the new bridge and provides an unobstructed view. On the opposite shore in Land Between The Lakes, there will be limited opportunities to hike in for an overlook along the bluff between US 68 and Barnett Bay.

"We’re asking the public to avoid intrusions into the active construction area around the new bridge during this critical move," McGregor said.

The Coast Guard will provide notice to the river industry that the navigation channel will be closed for up to 48 hours to accommodate setting of the arch. The clear zone will be strictly enforced. Coast Guard and emergency management personnel will be responsible for keeping pleasure boats at a safe distance. Multiple police agencies and KYTC personnel will assist with security for the site.

Once the span is safely in place on the main piers, the contractor will be able to more accurately calculate the time needed to place a concrete deck on the structure. “That, in turn, will allow a reasonable calculation of the time needed to move traffic to the new bridge,” McGregor said.

Once two travel lanes have been moved to the new structure, the contractor will build a permanent connection that will eventually allow four travel lanes with a multi-use trail across the bridge.  Completing all of those permanent connections could take up to a year.

The new $131.5 million, four-lane bridge, which features a unique basket-handle tied arch design, will carry U.S. 68/KY 80 over Kentucky Lake and serve as the western entrance to Land Between The Lakes, which long has been one of Kentucky’s premier tourism destinations.

The new bridge will replace the venerable but narrow and obsolete Eggners Ferry Bridge, which was built in 1932 and long ago ceased to meet design standards for modern vehicles, including recreational vehicles and modern freight carriers. The existing bridge required significant repair work after the Cargo Ship Delta Mariner struck it in January 2012, tearing away a 300-foot span. The bridge was repaired in 121 days.

The New Eggners Ferry Bridge is part of a larger Lakes Bridges Project, which also includes replacement of the Henry Lawrence Memorial Bridge on Lake Barkley with a twin of the Eggners Ferry basket handle arch.
Work is also expected to start in the spring of 2016 on an additional section of US 68/KY 80 to complete a 4-lane connection between Canton and Cadiz.

Once completed, the Lakes Bridges Project will provide a continuous, four-lane route from Aurora to Cadiz, crossing both lakes and Land Between The Lakes. It also will be part of a four-lane corridor extending from Mayfield to Bowling Green. The contract for the new Kentucky Lake bridge was awarded to Johnson Bros. Corporation, a Southland Company, in February 2014.  Michael Baker Jr. Inc. and Palmer Engineering designed the unique, basket-handle tied arch model – one of only a few dozen in the world.

Water Break
Photo by Melodie Cunningham

This young buck has taken a quick break for a drink. Deer are one of the more common types of wildlife that can be seen in this region.