Damaged Eggners Ferry Bridge Span to Reopen Memorial Day

Fri April 27, 2012 - Midwest Edition
Jennifer Rupp

KYTC crews performed prep work on the bridge before Hall Construction began replacing the 322-ft. (98.1 m) span.
KYTC crews performed prep work on the bridge before Hall Construction began replacing the 322-ft. (98.1 m) span.
KYTC crews performed prep work on the bridge before Hall Construction began replacing the 322-ft. (98.1 m) span. Span E of the Eggners Ferry Bridge (second span from the east) is seen sitting on top of the Delta Mariner cargo ship. In February, a KYTC bridge inspection team rappelled down several piers on the U.S. 68/KY 80 Eggners Ferry Bridge as part of an ongoing detailed review of the structure.

Hall Contracting of Kentucky has been awarded an emergency $7 million contract to replace the missing 322-ft. (98.1 m) span of the Eggners Ferry Bridge.

Engineers have finalized detailed plans required for the steel and fabrication has begun. Recently, Hall completed repairs ahead of schedule to reopen the Interstate 64 Sherman Minton Bridge in Louisville. The company has made a commitment to restore traffic to the Eggners Ferry Bridge by Memorial Day weekend.

In March, the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) approved $9 million in emergency relief funding for the repair of the U.S. 68/KY 80 Eggners Ferry Bridge at Aurora. A 322-ft. span of the bridge was mangled and knocked off the structure when the 8,200-ton cargo ship Delta Mariner slammed into the bridge the evening of January 26. The ship attempted to pass through the recreational channel instead of the main navigation channel.

Eggners Ferry Bridge was originally built in 1932. The bridge was named after a ferry that operated near the site.

In a letter approving $9 million in emergency federal funds to replace the span, FHWA Kentucky Division Administrator Jose Sepulveda noted that, “ER eligibility is limited to the restoration of essential traffic by the most cost effective means available.”

Plans for a full replacement of 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 estimated cost is $330 million for the two bridges.

Sepulveda also said any funds recovered from the shipping company that was responsible for the collision will be credited back to FHWA. The U.S. Coast Guard began hearing testimony on April 16 in Paducah on the collapse of the bridge. Delta Mariner Capt. Lloyd Patten cited incorrect navigation lighting as the cause of the collision. At press time, no verdict has been returned.

Kentucky Transportation Secretary Mike Hancock said while the state had sufficient funds to make emergency repairs to the bridge, the federal funding will help assure that state funds remain available for other projects.

“We have worked to assure that funds are immediately available for quick repair of the Eggners Ferry Bridge,” Secretary Hancock said. “This FHWA commitment will reduce the likelihood that work to restore this important connection across Kentucky Lake would create a delay for other highway improvement projects where state funds have been committed. We appreciate this timely commitment of emergency relief by FHWA.”

About 2,600 vehicles normally cross the bridge in an average day. The bridge is a critical link for tourism in Kentucky’s 15-county Western Lakes Region. It serves as the western entrance to Land Between The Lakes National Recreation area, a major regional tourist attraction.

Closure of the bridge adds a 42-mi. detour via I-24 to a normal 22-mi. trip from Aurora to Cadiz along U.S. 68/KY 80.

Hall Construction said it will run a crew of about 40 around the clock to meet the repair deadline. The company faces a $50,000 per day penalty for failing to meet the May 27 target date for restoring traffic.

The project requires construction of a 20-ft. (6 m) wide deck that meets dimensions of the existing bridge and railings. In addition, the replacement truss will be painted to closely resemble the color of the existing spans.

Kentucky Transportation Cabinet (KYTC) District 1 Chief Engineer Jim LeFevre said an inspection of the bridge following the Delta Mariner incident identified a number of routine maintenance projects that could be completed in April before the contractor arrived. The work included railing replacement and repairs, as well as deck patching.

“The work we’re doing now will help keep lane restrictions to a minimum,” LeFevre stated earlier this month.

The deck patching work was primarily on the remaining truss spans and along the approach spans on the Trigg County end. Most of the ongoing maintenance work was completed in about a week.

Once the new span has been built, highway crews will install lighting and allow AT&T to replace a fiber-optic communication cable, which was severed in the crash. That additional work will require lane restrictions. CEG

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