MCCRACKEN COUNTY, KY (KFVS) - A contractor for the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet has finished saw cutting of decking on the three main spans of the Old Ledbetter Bridge.
On Wednesday morning, July 23, a crew started some initial demolition work that included jack-hammering along the end of the main span nearest the McCracken County side of the Tennessee River.
The contractor plans to finish the initial dismantling of concrete along the end of the span by hand. Once the crew loosens the concrete decking along the edge, the contractor plans to start using mechanized equipment to take out the concrete decking. The crew will be working from west to east along the bridge.
The contractor submitted plans for the demolition to the U.S. Coast Guard for approval several weeks ago. The Coast Guard has indicated it would take about 30 days to fully review the plan.
Once the plan is approved, the contractor will be able to provide a timetable for the ongoing demolition work through the summer. The contractor said the safety of the workers, the public and river traffic will be the top priority throughout the demolition process.
Also known as the George Rogers Clark Memorial Bridge, the Old Ledbetter Bridge was opened to traffic in 1931. The Kentucky Transportation Cabinet has issued a $5.6 million demolition contract that requires the old bridge to be removed by December 1 of this year.
The Old Ledbetter Bridge has been closed since July of 2013, when traffic was moved to the new U.S. 60 Tennessee River Bridge just upstream.
At the end of April a section of the west approach on the Old Ledbetter Bridge dropped several feet due to land movement along the bluff on the McCracken County side of the river.
Due to the continued land slippage along the bluff, one land-based approach pier and two approach spans at the west end of the bridge collapsed in the early morning hours of June 22, prompting engineers to expedite demolition of the structure.
Demolition of the bridge will require close coordination with the U.S. Coast Guard to help minimize disruptions to navigation along the Tennessee River.