Eggner’s Ferry Bridge (US 68, KY 80)

Eggner’s Ferry Bridge carries U.S. Route 68 and Kentucky Route 80 across Kentucky Lake between Trigg and Marshall counties in Kentucky.

History

The Eggner’s Ferry Bridge opened to traffic on March 25, 1932, carrying U.S. Route 68 over the Tennessee River.5 It was closed to traffic on July 10, 1943 as part of the Kentucky Lake construction project. The bridge was raised 25 feet and extended lengthwise by 148 feet.6 Only 330 feet of the original 3,348 feet remained unchanged. The cost to raise and extend the bridge was $384,000 and was completed by the Rust Engineering Company of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.7 During the closure, a ferry was established.5

Partial Collapse

On January 26, 2012, at 8:10 PM CST,3 322-feet of the bridge collapsed after being struck by a cargo ship.2 Initial reports stated that some of the navigational lights were not in operation, and that a project headed by the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet was scheduled for January 27 to perform maintenance work on the lights. The Coast Guard had earlier notified barge companies of the issue.2 There were no injuries among the 20 crew members that were aboard the boat.3

Robert Parker and his wife, of Cadiz, were traveling eastbound on the highway and were driving on the darkened span in the rain when they noticed that a section of the bridge was missing.9 Parker was able to stop the vehicle from five feet of the collapse. Two cars behind him also narrowly avoided colliding with his vehicle.

“All of a sudden, I see the road’s gone and I hit the brakes. It got close.”
-Robert Parker 9

A dive team from the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet plan on installing sensors on a damaged pier of the bridge that will detect the degree of tilt and can detect movement.10 While emergency inspections found the western half of the span to be in stable condition, the a pier on the eastern span was moved out of position.

The bridge carried 6,250 vehicles per day.10

Replacement

As part of the four-lane upgrades of U.S. Route 68 and Kentucky Route 80 in southern Kentucky, Eggner’s Ferry Bridge was slated for replacement with a new four-lane crossing. The bridge selection process began in mid-2007, which included arch, girder, truss and cable-stay bridge types.4 There were 25 concepts, including arch, girder, truss and cable stay bridge types.12 After much consideration, the alternatives were narrowed to four: three cable stay bridges and a girder bridge. Due to funding issues, the cable stay options were eliminated. It was requested that the project team incorporate two additional lower cost alternatives and to reduce the bridge typical section but still maintain four travel lanes. On July 14, 2009, Governor Beshear unveiled the design of the replacement: a tied arch span that would be unique to the state.1 The new 550-foot, four-lane bridge design included 11-foot lanes, 4-foot shoulders and a separate 10-foot sidewalk and bike path.11

The estimated cost of the design and construction of the new bridge was $178 million.1 A $25 million contract was let in early 2014 to Jim Smith Contracting of Grand Rivers to construct the fill for the western and eastern causeways and to build a bridge over a lagoon on the west side of Kentucky Lake. Another contract to build the bridge was awarded to Johnson Brothers Corp. of Fort Worth, Texas on February 11 for $131.5 million.11

The four-lane alignment through Land Between the Lakes, which is situated between the Eggner’s Ferry Bridge at Kentucky Lake and the Lake Barkley Bridge at Lake Barkley, was completed in November 2010 after being under construction for three years.

  • Gallery
  • Statistics
  • Further Reading
  • Sources

Renderings (Replacement)

Statistics (Original)

  • Designation: US 68, KY 80
  • Crosses: Tennessee River/Kentucky Lake
  • Bridge Type: Through truss
  • Total Length: 3,348 feet / 3,495 feet
  • Main Span Length: 368 feet
  • Deck Width: 20 feet
  • Vertical Clearance Above Deck: 18 feet

Statistics (Replacement)

  • Designation: US 68, KY 80
  • Crosses: Tennessee River/Kentucky Lake
  • Bridge Type: Tied arch
  • Main Span Length: 550 feet
  • Deck Width 74.6 feet
  • Height: 60 feet above water
  1. Wolfe, Chuck. “Governor Beshear unveils design for US 68 lakes bridges.” Office of Public Affairs. Kentucky Transportation Cabinet, 14 July 2009. Web. 26 Jan. 2012. Article..
  2. “Eggner Ferry Bridge collapses after ship strike.” WPSD-6. Ed. Michael Vick. N.p., 26 Jan. 2012. Web. 26 Jan. 2012. Article.
  3. Long, James. “No reported injuries in Ky. bridge collapse.” KFVS-12. Web. 26 Jan. 2012. Article.
  4. “Bridge Type Selection.” Lake Bridges over Kentucky Lake & Lake Barkley. Kentucky Transportation Cabinet, 2011. Web. 26 Jan. 2012. Article.
  5. Harper, Thomas D. “Between the Rivers.” Trigg County. Charleston: Arcadia, 2010. 9. Print.
  6. Stevenson, Mark Allen and Bill Baxter. “The Largest: Kentucky Dam.” Tennessee Valley Authority in Vintage Postcards: Arcadia, 2005. 87. Print.
  7. Engineering News-Record. Vol. 132. 85. N.p.: McGraw, 1944. N. pag. Print.
  8. American Highways. Vols. 23-27. N.p.: American Association of State Highway Officials, 1948. N. pag.Print.
  9. “Bridge collapses in Kentucky after being rammed by hulking freighter carrying space rocket parts.” Daily Mail. N.p., 27 Jan. 2012. Web. 27 Jan. 2012. Article.
  10. “Update from the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet.” The Front Blog. N.p., 28 Jan. 2012. Web. 30 Jan. 2012. Article.
  11. “Gov. Beshear Announces Contract Award to Construct Kentucky Lake Bridge.” Explore Kentucky Lake. N.p., 11 Feb. 2014. Web. 27 Aug. 2014. Article.
  12. “Bridge Type Selection.” Lake Bridges. N.p., 2007. Web. 27 Aug. 2014. Article.

5 comments

  1. Just a clarification – it was not a towboat or a barge that hit the bridge, it was a cargo ship. The motor vessel Delta Mariner is designed to travel in as little as 9 feet of water, and can navigate in rivers or the ocean. It is used by NASA and Boeing to carry rockets and other parts from Boeing's factory in Decatur, AL to the Gulf of Mexico, and then to Cape Kennedy, FL or Vandenburg AFB, CA.

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