Ky. awards contract to repair damaged bridge

(Source: Marshall County SO)
(Source: Marshall County SO)

MARSHALL COUNTY, KY (KFVS) - The state has awarded a $7 million emergency contract to repair a damaged western Kentucky bridge over Kentucky Lake.

Gov. Steve Beshear said Thursday the goal is to reopen the Eggners Ferry Bridge by Memorial Day weekend, at the start of the summer tourism season.

The state Transportation Cabinet awarded the contract to Hall Contracting of Kentucky Inc. It's the same company that last month completed repairs ahead of schedule to reopen the Sherman Minton Bridge connecting Louisville and southern Indiana.

The Eggners Ferry Bridge has been closed since Jan. 26, when a cargo vessel struck the span and tore off a 322-foot section of the 80-year-old bridge.

The 8,400 ton cargo vessel was carrying parts for NASA when it crashed into bridge.  No one was injured.

The Delta Mariner sat in the open space between two bridge piers with some of the bridge superstructure and deck draped over the ship's bow until it was moved to a safer location on Feb. 6.

The cargo on board was not damaged.

The contract for repairing the span includes a $50,000 per day penalty for missing a May 27 deadline to reopen the bridge.

According to Beshear's office, KYTC opted to make an emergency solicitation rather than go through its customary construction procurement process, in which a project is designed and put out for bids. The cabinet instead invited a select group of prequalified bridge contractors to submit bids.

Contractors were given access to original design plans and recent inspection reports for the bridge. Each contractor was instructed to submit a lump-sum price that included all costs for engineering, materials, labor and equipment needed for repairing the bridge's pier caps, replacing the truss span and reopening the bridge.

Two other companies besides Hall Contracting submitted proposals:

• Walsh Contracting, of Crown Point, Ind. – $11.2 million

• C.J. Mahan, of Grove City, Ohio – $11.4 million

The project requires a new asphalt or concrete deck 20 feet wide, comporting with dimensions of the rest of the existing bridge, and a railing system at least as strong as the existing rails. In addition, the truss must be given one primer coat of paint that closely resembles the color of adjacent spans.

KYTC considered adding a ferry service to the area to accommodate traffic, but chose not to implement it. The bridge carried nearly 2,700 cars per day, and at best, a ferry could carry only 40 cars per hour. According to the governor's office, this would create an unreasonable bottleneck. A ferry service would likely demand the construction of access roads, as well as possible dredging of the lake to allow the ferry's safe passage. By the time those accommodations were finished, the bridge would be likely close to completion.

The Eggners Ferry Bridge is obsolete, as is a similarly aged and sized bridge over nearby Lake Barkley. Both are being replaced with four-lane bridges in a project that is still in preconstruction phase. The recommended highway plan that Gov. Beshear sent to the General Assembly on Jan. 17 provides $330 million in construction funding for the two bridges combined.

With closure of the bridge, KYTC has posted signs to detour through-traffic onto Interstate 24, which circles north of Land Between the Lakes. Drivers also can get around Land Between the Lakes via U.S. 62 on the northern end and KY 121 – becoming Tennessee 119 – on the south.

The Kentucky State Police request that drivers who normally travel westbound on US 68 through the Land between the Lakes to please avoid LBL and KY 453 or The Trace as well as US 68. KSP request drivers to instead use the Interstate 24 corridor to the purchase parkway to access this area.

Despite bridge closure, Land Between the Lakes still open.

Closure of the bridge does not mean closure of Land Between the Lakes. Travelers wishing to enter and visit the nationally renowned recreation area and nearby Lake Barkley can still do so:

--From east and south – I-24 to Exit 65, then west on U.S.68/80 through Cadiz and Trigg County.

--From north and west – I-24 to Exit 31 or U.S. 62 to Lake City, then south on KY 453 through Grand Rivers and onto The Trace, a scenic roadway that runs the length of the recreation area.

Copyright 2012 KFVS. All rights reserved.  The Associated Press contributed to this story.