The Irvine Bridge carries KY Routes 52 and 89 over the Kentucky River and CSX Railroad in Irvine, Kentucky.
The path that later became known as the Richmond-Irvine Road and KY Route 52 was first used by Native Americans on their journey upriver. 3 The path became a major wagon, team, and stagecoach road.
A ferry conveyed travelers across the Kentucky River at Estill, 3 which was replaced by a one-lane tolled bridge opened by the Irvine Toll Bridge Company 6 on December 25, 1909. 1 The crossing featured a Pennsylvania through truss main span and two Warren pony trusses on the approaches.
The Richmond-Irvine Road was blacktopped by 1914, 3 and in the late 1920s, the highway was modernized and accepted by the state highway department as KY Route 52. 4
In 1930, the franchise of the Irvine Toll Bridge Company expired. 4 No other permit had been granted for the operation of the bridge. Before the franchise expiration, the county attempted to buy the crossing from the owners. After some court litigation, it was determined that the contract between the county and the owners was void. The bridge was then operated without a franchise, and the highway commission granted a permit to operate for the sum of $5 per year.
Three surveys were done for a new bridge in 1931 during the administration of County Judge Harry B. Wilson. 5 Three locations were studied: along Main Street, at the south end of Madison Avenue, and just below the Louisville & Nashville Railroad Bridge where the ferry formerly operated. The State Highway Department recommended that the bridge be erected at the south end of Main Street, along with a spur route to South Irvine.
In 1939, a substructure construction contract was awarded to the Reith-Ryley Construction Company, while the superstructure contract was awarded to the Bethlehem Steel Corporation. 5 6 It was estimated that the new bridge, designed by engineer T.J. Hopgood, would cost $291,748. 5
The new Irvine Bridge, a Warren through truss, was dedicated by Governor Keen Johnson on July 26, 1940. 2 An all-day program was held in celebration of the new crossing, attracting nearly 6,000 people to the festivities that included live music, bicycle races, boat races along the Kentucky River, a boxing match, a wheelbarrow race, and a baseball game. It also featured an invocation from a pastor, numerous welcoming addresses, and concluding with a ribbon-cutting by the governor.
The Irvine Bridge underwent structural repairs, a deck overlay, and repainting in 2021-22. 7
- State: Kentucky
- Route: KY Routes 52 and 89
- Type: Warren Through Truss
- Status: Active - Automobile
- Total Length: 794 feet
- Main Span Length: 319 feet
- Deck Width: 21.5 feet
- Above Vertical Clearance: 17.8 feet
- Navigational Clearance:
- “Bridge Completed at Irvine.” Clay City Times, 30 Dec. 1909, p. 2.
- “Governor Johnson Dedicates Highway Bridge Over Kentucky River at Irvine.” Lexington Herald, 27 Jul. 1940, p. 3.
- Treadway, C.M. “Estill County’s First Highway Gives Way to Progress.” Lexington Leader, 8 Aug. 1956, p. 13.
- “Estill May Seek Freeing of Span.” Lexington Leader, 30 Nov. 1931, p. 12.
- “Dedication of New Bridge Over Kentucky River at Irvine.” Lexington Herald, 10 Jul. 1940, p. 5.
- Adams, J. Frank. “Toll Bridge’s Days Numbered; Irvine Building Another Span.” Lexington Herald, 28 Nov. 1939, pp. 1-12.
- “Kentucky River bridge to close for repairs, repainting.” WYMT, 9 Mar. 2022.