Burnside Bridge (US 27)

    Burnside Bridge (US 27)

    The Burnside Bridge carries US Route 27 over the Cumberland River and Lake Cumberland in Burnside, Kentucky.


    Prior to the completion of a fixed crossing over the Cumberland River, travelers along US Route 27 between Burnside and Somerset had to deal with a privately owned ferry. Construction of a fixed crossing of the river began in 1930. 1

    The new Cumberland River bridge and adjoining tunnel were dedicated by officials of the State Highway Commission and civic leaders on November 12, 1931. 1 Following the usual assortment of speeches, three girls, one each from Somerset, Burnside, and Monticello, cut into three bits a white ribbon held tight over the south approach. A formal procession followed that was headed by a stagecoach drawn by four black horses, followed by an old covered wagon, two men on horseback, a selected group of pedestrians, and an automobile that symbolized the modern mode of highway travel. The stagecoach was used until 1916 to provide regular public conveyance between Burnside and Monticello and was the last stagecoach line to operate in the state.

    Costing $400,000 to construct, the 1,100-foot-long bridge over the river was the “last link” in the completion of a modern US Route 27 (Cincinnati-Lookout Mountain Airline) as it removed the only ferry remaining on the route between Cincinnati and Chattanooga. 1 2 It was the highest crossing in the state at 108 feet from the low water mark on the river. 1 Also completed was an adjoining tunnel 182-feet in length, or nearly double the length of the tunnel along US Route 68 in Brooklyn, at the cost of $40,000.

    The bridge was funded through the Murphy Toll Bridge Act, legislation that was passed in 1928 that allowed the State Department of Highways to erect highway bridges across the state and allowed the state to sell construction bonds that would be paid back by tolls.

    Authorized by the Flood Control Act of 1938 and the River Harbor Act of 1946 as part of a comprehensive plan to develop the Cumberland River basin, Wolf Creek Dam was constructed between 1941 and 1951 in Russell County. The damming of the Cumberland River formed Lake Cumberland and required the construction of seven new highway and railway bridges across the impoundment.

    As part of the project, the circa 1931 bridge and tunnel were replaced with a 1,130-foot-long deck truss structure at the cost of $1,103,650. 3 The new Burnside Bridge was formally dedicated on March 31, 1951.

    Construction started in 1999 on a four-lane replacement of the aging circa 1951 Burnside Bridge which was completed in 2002.



    • State: Kentucky
    • Route: US Route 27
    • Type: Beam
    • Status: Active - Automobile
    • Total Length: 1,100 feet (1931); 1,130 feet (1951); 1,406 feet (2001)
    • Main Span Length: 336 feet (1951); 276 feet (2001)
    • Spans:


    • Deck Width: 85 feet (2001)
    • Roadway Width: 24 feet (1951); 79 feet (2001)


    1. Trout, Allan. “Toll Bridge at Burnside is Dedicated.” Courier-Journal [Louisville], 13 Nov. 1931, pp. 1-11.
    2. “The New Bridges.” Interior Journal [Stanford], 13 Nov. 1931, p. 4.
    3. “Four Lake Cumberland Bridges to be Opened Formally Today.” Lexington Herald, 31 Mar. 1951, p. 7.

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