The construction of two new bridges over the Kentucky and Barkley lakes is expected to begin early next year.
In October, Gov. Steve Beshear announced plans to push forward construction to begin before he leaves his position in 2015.
The plans for the new structures are currently in the design phase, but once completed, both bridges will match the four-lane U.S. 68/Ky. Hwy. 80 widening project that has been underway in the region for much of the last decade. Additionally, they will feature stronger trusses and safer guardrails than the two existing bridges connecting the Jackson Purchase region to greater western Kentucky.
The two platforms are expected to be almost identical in the unique basket-handle tied arch design made popular in several Japanese bridges.
The bridge to be built over the Kentucky Lake will replace the Eggners Ferry Bridge at the western entrance to Land Between the Lakes National Recreation Area after it was re-opened in July – six months after the Delta Mariner, an 8,200-ton cargo ship, struck the bridge in January, displacing a span.
The bridge should be completed by 2016.
The structure’s contract includes a basket-handle arch, approach spans to the arch, final roadway construction and a multi-use path.
Keith Todd, public information officer for the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet, said the plans for the new bridge over Kentucky Lake are in progress and construction should begin soon on the first phases of the bridge.
“The first sign of work on that project will be an approach bridge that will cross the lagoon next to the existing bridge at Aurora (Ky.),” Todd said. “This will extend over the lagoon to give the contractor access to the main lake for construction to eventually begin on the actual lake crossing.”
Todd said finishing the approach span will give KyTC officials a better idea of how and when to undergo the substantial build process.
The second step will include construction of the main span arch bridge, the bridge approaches and all final roadway paving. Design completion for this initial phase of work is expected to begin in early 2014.
“I just want to remind people that building a bridge doesn’t happen overnight,” Todd said. “It takes years of planning and permit work. It’s a major project and it’ll move forward depending on the weather and money.”
He said he expects to have a start date on the lagoon bridge in the next month or two.
Officials from the KyTC manage the Lake Bridges Project. These officials will oversee work completed by the engineering consultant team of Michael Baker Jr. Inc. and Palmer Engineering.
The second bridge over Lake Barkley replaces the Lawrence Memorial Bridge. It too does not match the U.S. 68/ Ky. Hwy 80 widening project, lacks shoulders and adequate resistance strength.
Construction of the new bridge over Lake Barkley is expected to begin in late 2014. That bridge is expected to be complete by 2017.
The bridge has two lanes with steel beams and trusses. It’s owned and maintained by the Commonwealth of Kentucky.
Story by Meghann Anderson, Assistant News Editor.