New Tennessee River bridge has locals talking

New Tennessee River bridge has locals talking
By: Erica Byfield

McCRACKEN & LINVINGSTON COUNTIES, Ky. - "It needs to be a sturdy bridge, I need to get to Paducah but I don't want to fall off of the bridge!" said Ledbetter resident Barbara Bryant.

State leaders agree, the Tennessee River Bridge has seen better days. The bridge built in 1929 connects the eastern part of McCracken County with Livingston County. On Thursday, Kentucky Department of Highways held an informal meeting to get the communities feedback on plans for a new bridge.

As we learned, it's going to take a group effort.

Just mention "Tennessee River Bridge" in either Paducah or Ledbetter and you'll hear, "Our bridge is falling apart, you could see right through it.  They had to patch it all up!" said Bryant. "It's not in good repair the bridge is not wide enough," said Paducah Resident Christie Fiers.

Leaders in Kentucky got the message, so far engineers have mapped out plans and construction crews started working. "We already have construction underway on the pier which is of course the support for the bridge.  But, there is still time to change the superstructure design if there is desire to do that," said the Department of Highways spokesperson Keith Todd. 

Meaning the department is going to the people for esthetic suggestions; since this bridge is going to cost about 80 million dollars to build.

Residents on both sides of the river said their major complaint is that the bridge is too narrow. Keith Todd says of course that will change, "the new bridge will be built to the newer standards to where it will be four lanes, and it will be wider."

"There was an issue brought up about a full steel structure and not painting it and people are down on that because it will rust," said Ledbetter resident John Workman. Todd said that is still on the table, but nothing it set in stone.

One thing is for sure these residents are letting their opinions fly; they want a sturdy and well built bridge. "If they are going to do it, do it right!  Do not put a bridge that's going to fall apart!" said Bryant. If you could not make the meeting Thursday, Keith Todd said you still have 15 days after the gathering to submit written comments.