Gov. Beshear visits Eggners Ferry Bridge - KFVS12 News & Weather Cape Girardeau, Carbondale, Poplar Bluff

Gov. Beshear visits Eggners Ferry Bridge

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MARSHALL COUNTY, KY (KFVS) -

Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear took a firsthand look at the damaged Eggners Ferry Bridge in Marshall County Wednesday.

Beshear says getting traffic restored across Kentucky Lake is among his highest priorities.

"We are keenly aware of the inconvenience for travelers and the economic hardship that has been created for many business owners because of the sudden loss of this route across Kentucky Lake," Gov. Beshear said in a press release. "Our engineers are working non-stop on plans to get traffic safely restored."

The Eggners Ferry Bridge, which carries U.S. 68/KY 80 across Kentucky Lake, has been closed since it was rammed by a cargo ship, the Delta Mariner, on Jan. 26 around 8 p.m.  A 322-foot-long span of the 80-year-old bridge was torn away.

Since the crash, engineers and inspectors from the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet (KYTC) have been examining and monitoring remaining piers and bridge spans to determine their stability.

A temporary ferry service is being explored while repairs are being made.  Two engineering consultants are working on repair options for multiple scenarios, including temporary bridge piers, according to Gov. Beshear's office.

Anything installed or built in the lake, such as bridge piers or docks for a ferry, likely would require approval from the Coast Guard, Army Corps of Engineers and the Tennessee Valley Authority.

Gov. Beshear said U.S. Sen. Rand Paul and Congressman Ed Whitfield have offered to seek expedited approval of necessary permits.

KYTC crews have worked around the clock since the crash of the vessel Delta Mariner.

The two-lane Eggners Ferry Bridge is the western gateway to Land Between the Lakes National Recreation Area,  It opened to traffic crossing the Tennessee River in 1932. Its elevation was raised in 1943 when the Tennessee was impounded to create Kentucky Lake. A KYTC traffic count conducted in 2009 showed 2,650 vehicles per day crossed the bridge.

The Transportation Cabinet is in the process of replacing the bridge, along with the nearby bridge over Lake Barkley on the eastern side of Land Between the Lakes. Preconstruction work, including geotechnical drilling, began months ago. Gov. Beshear's recommended highway plan, which he sent to the General Assembly on Jan. 17, contains $165 million in construction funding for a new Kentucky Lake bridge from 2013 through 2015.

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 Land Between the Lakes is still open.  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.

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