New U.S. 60 bridge to be completed earlier - KFVS12 News & Weather Cape Girardeau, Carbondale, Poplar Bluff

New U.S. 60 bridge to be completed earlier

(Source: KYTC) (Source: KYTC)
(Source: KYTC) (Source: KYTC)
(Source: KYTC) (Source: KYTC)
(Source: KYTC) (Source: KYTC)
(Source: KYTC) (Source: KYTC)

Governor Steve Beshear announced a plan to accelerate construction of the new U.S. 60 Tennessee River Bridge between Paducah and Ledbetter, enabling drivers to begin using it more than a year ahead of schedule.

Gov. Beshear says they plan to cut a minimum of nine months off the estimated completion date of the project, but they should be able to have two lanes of traffic on the new bridge by May 2013 – 14 months ahead of schedule.

The bridge contract is being converted from "working days" to a specified completion date under an agreement between the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet and the contractor, Kay & Kay/Haydon Bridge Joint Venture.

Under the accelerated schedule, the new, four-lane bridge would be completed by Oct. 31, 2013 – as opposed to an original completion target of July 2014.

The contractor could collect up to $3.8 million in incentives by getting the bridge open to two lanes of traffic by May 1, 2013. For each day after May 1, 2013, the contractor would forfeit $19,000 of the incentive bonus.

The existing Ledbetter Bridge, which is 80 years old, had to be reduced to a 3-ton load limit for safety reasons. The 3-ton limit effectively restricts the bridge to passenger vehicles and unloaded standard pickup trucks. This restriction has created a hardship for area businesses and farmers.

Additional work is scheduled on the existing bridge to help assure commuter traffic can be safely maintained until the new bridge is ready to open.

The contractor and KYTC engineers are working out details for maintaining traffic safety during final work on the new structure, including the painting of the main truss.

Some of the time saved comes from placing two-lane traffic on one side of the new bridge while half the truss is being painted, then shifting traffic to the other side to allow painting of the rest of the structure.

Transportation Secretary Mike Hancock said accelerating work on the new bridge took into account the expense of keeping the old bridge open for limited commuter traffic and the benefits of restoring truck traffic for area businesses and farmers. Hancock says the agreement strikes a balance between the costs of using law enforcement to enforce the restrictions on the old bridge and maintenance on the old bridge.

KYTC engineers expect to finalize details of the accelerated work schedule in the next few weeks.

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