William H. Natcher Bridge
In late January, I made the trip to western Kentucky to visit the Eggner’s Ferry Bridge collapse. En route, I was able to stop and photograph the William H. Natcher Bridge, which I have had an article about for years but lacked the photographs. The graceful cable-stayed suspension, connecting Owensboro to Indiana, carries U.S. Route 231 over the Ohio River.
The span is significant, not only for its impressive length at 4,505 feet, but for its unique design that involved the erection of two diamond-shaped concrete towers. Construction on the Natcher Bridge began in 1994 with the completion of two concrete piers, but due to funding issues, work did not progress nay further until 1998.
When construction did resume, work was at times slow due to weather and the complexity of working with the cables. Curing of the concrete was expedited by trucking in ice and circulating cold water from the Ohio River through the structure. Despite this, the project was two years behind schedule when it opened to traffic on October 22, 2002 at a cost of $57 million.
The bridge, the longest of its type in the United States over an inland waterway, is named after House Representative William H. Natcher from Kentucky, who served the public for 40 years and had never missed a call vote until his death on March 29, 1994. His involvement in the project was instrumental in securing funding for the span.
Accessing the bridge site from Kentucky was trickier than expected due to higher water levels along the Ohio River, leading to various access roads being flooded or impassable due to mud and sand.