A vital traffic artery to and from Murray, the Eggners Ferry Bridge has been restored in western Kentucky.
Mark Welch, director of community relations and public information, said the repair to the bridge has been invaluable to Murray State’s retention.
“Some students faced dropping out last semester because they couldn’t afford the extended commute caused by the damaged bridge,” he said. “If those students weren’t accommodated they might not have been able to continue their education here.”
Welch said because of the repair Murray State has retained the commuting students from across the lake, who might have been forced to put a pause on their college careers.
Repairs stemmed from an incident that occurred the morning of Jan. 26, when the Delta Mariner, an 8,200-ton cargo ship, struck the bridge, knocking a 322-foot span off the structure and into Kentucky Lake. A large gap on the eastern portion of the bridge remained over a secondary channel of the lake while state officials scrambled to find repair funds.
Navigation lighting on the bridge was repaired during work to replace the span and reopen the bridge just before Memorial Day.
The US 68/KY 80 Eggners Ferry Bridge is at the western entrance to Land between the Lakes National Recreation Area. The Bridge carries approximately 2,650 vehicles across Kentucky Lake per day.
Welch said life was easier for many commuters and tourists to the area because of the repair.
“Before the repair, Murray was cut off from the lake completely,” he said. “It hurt many financially who depended on the bridge for access to Murray.”