Gov. Steve Beshear announced Thursday at the Kenlake State Resort Park in Hardin, Ky., that an emergency contract to repair and reopen the damaged Eggners Ferry Bridge has been established.
The repairs to the damaged bridge are to be completed by Memorial Day, if not, penalties will be issued by the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet. The penalty includes a fine of $50,000 for each day past the May 27 deadline.
The KTC accepted a $7 million bid proposed by Hall Contracting of Kentucky Inc.
“Since the night the bridge was struck and the highway was severed, we have worked with one thought in mind – to get this bridge repaired and route 68/80 reopened as quickly as possible,” Beshear said. “We have never lost sight of the damage that the loss of this bridge is doing to area businesses and the toll it has taken, in time and fuel cost, on folks who have been forced into long detours to get from one side of the lakes to the other.”
He said a plan to implement a ferry service was announced to accommodate traffic, but capacity and timing were two factors he thought to be an issue.
A ferry service could only capacitate 40 cars per hour, the bridge accommodated approximately 2,700 cars per day.
Beshear said the time it would take to build roads leading to a ferry combined with dredging the lake would take more time than the actual proposed construction.
Bertha Wilson, co-owner of the Brass Lantern in Aurora, Ky., said the construction could not be coming at a better time.
“Hopefully this will mean we will have a great summer,” Wilson said. “We get a lot of business from Land Between the Lakes, which has been hindered by the downed bridge.”
Beshear said construction will save the crucial summer tourism season for the region.
Contractors were given recent inspection reports and were granted access to the original design plans of the existing 80-year-old bridge.
Beshear ended the press conference stating the Eggners Ferry Bridge was obsolete, as was the Lake Barkley Bridge.
“Both bridges will be replaced with four-lane bridges in a project that is still in preconstruction phase,” he said.
Jim LeFevre, chief district engineer for the KTC, said the plan is to complete the Kentucky Lake bridge first.
The recommended highway plan that Beshear sent to the General Assembly on Jan. 17 will provide $330 million in construction funds for the two bridges, if passed.