Spottsville Bridge is a through truss bridge that carries US Route 60 over the Green River in Spottsville, Kentucky.
A privately operated ferry had operated over the Green River at Spottsville since the 1800s. Following the rise of automobile usage and the designation of US Route 60 across the state on November 11, 1926, the ferry became increasingly overburdened.
Annie Stewart acquired the Spottsville Ferry franchise for $15,000 in 1925. 8 It was sold on July 27, 1927, for $17,500 to the Nashville Bridge Company which had planned to construct a bridge. The fiscal court had ratified the sale but added a stipulation that the Nashville Bridge Company start work on the bridge within twelve months.
In August 1928, engineers from the Kentucky Highway Commission began surveying work to construct a fixed crossing across the Green River to replace the Spottsville Ferry. 9 The bridge was the first proposed to be built under the recently passed Murphy Toll Bridge Act. By November, excavations for the new bridge’s piers had begun.
On November 13, the Nashville Bridge Company was sued by T. B. Hunt, a former circuit judge, and T. B. Crawley. 10 Both asked for an injunction against the company and the Pond River Bridge Company, restraining them from building a bridge across the Green River at Spottsville. Crawley, who claimed to be a taxpayer of Henderson County, alleged that the bridge companies had no certificate of necessity and convenience from the Kentucky Highway Commission. However, both companies had been granted permits by the county and the federal War Department.
After the lawsuit resolved itself, a new construction contract was let on November 8, 1930. 6 7 The Koss Construction Company of Des Moines, Iowa was awarded the contract for the substructure, and the International Steel & Iron Company of Evansville, Indiana was awarded the contract for the superstructure. A work order was given on November 18.
Rapid progress was made on the new bridge’s construction until July 1931 when the framework of the superstructure collapsed, killing three workers. 7 Work did not resume until September.
The new Spottsville Bridge was completed at the cost of $225,000 7 and opened on December 17, 1931. 3 5 7 It was dedicated to Richard W. Owen, an early member of the Kentucky Highway Commission from Daviess County who was instrumental in a bridge-building boom across the Commonwealth. 5 7 A large crowd turned out for the dedication ceremonies with an estimated 4,000 in attendance which included a speech by Lt. Governor A. B. “Happy” Chandler, a parade, the singing of “My Old Kentucky Home” and “Dixie,” and a banquet in Henderson. 15 The ribbon was cut by Irma Stanley and Susan Langley.
The new 1,102-foot crossing comprised of a deck girder span, two Parker through trusses, including a 359-foot main span, and four Warren deck trusses. 3 Passenger cars were levied a toll of 55¢ or 30¢ per round trip within 24 hours.
The concept of tolled bridges in the state was not new. The bridges were preceded by privately owned and operated ferries which were numerous because the state had more miles of navigable streams than any other in the nation. 3 4 Private interests then began building privately owned and operated bridges as the state had insufficient funds to take on the concept itself. The peak of privately owned crossings peaked before the Great Depression. The Murphy Toll Bridge Act was passed in 1928 which provided for the purchasing and building of new toll bridges to replace private ferries and to prevent private interests from capitalizing on water barriers in the state highway system.
The Murphy Toll Bridge Act was amended in 1930 to provide for the financing of bridges with bonds issued solely against tolls. 3 4 When enough revenue was collected to retire the bonds against it, the bridge was to be freed of tolls forever.
The collection of tolls ceased on August 18, 1945, which was a week in advance of the time statisticians had figured the bridge, along with seven others at Boonesboro, Burnside, Canton, Eggner’s Ferry, Paducah, Smithland, and Tyrone, would have collected enough tolls to pay off their construction bonds. 3 A toll removal ceremony was held at the Spottsville Consolidated School on August 25. Following speeches and discussions, a ribbon across the west entrance to the bridge was cut by two women who had performed the same duty when the crossing first opened.
In September 2013, the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet (KYTC) selected a consultant to study possible options for replacing the Spottsville Bridge. 1 The state determined that the structure was functionally obsolete because of its narrow deck width of 19 feet, 10 inches which gave two driving lanes that were less than 10 feet wide, 1 and was structurally deficient. 11 The narrow width and lack of shoulders made transporting agricultural equipment, such as wide combines and tractors, inconvenient and dangerous. Additionally, its load restrictions made carrying heavier equipment impossible.
KYTC began preparation work for constructing the new Spottsville Bridge in February 2020. 2 5 Stantech was selected to design the bridge while CJ Mahan Construction Company was selected as the prime contractor for the $32,215,900 project. 2 15
The new Spottsville Bridge was dedicated on August 17, 2022, 14 15 with the ribbon being cut by Irma Stanley Day who had cut the ribbon on the original Spottsville Bridge in 1931. 15 The crossing opened to traffic on August 23. 13 It features two 12-foot driving lanes and 8-foot shoulders. 2 5 It was closed to traffic on October 4 for the implosion of a 161-foot truss, 12 with the implosion of the main 360-foot truss following on October 12. 16
- State: Kentucky
- Route: US 60
- Type: Warren Deck Truss, Parker Through Truss
- Status: Demolished - Replaced
- Total Length: 1,103 feet (1931); 1,143 feet (2022)
- Main Span Length: 360 feet (1931); 560 feet (2022)
- Spans: 161 feet (1931)
- Deck Width: 19.10 feet (1931); 32 feet (2022)
- Above Vertical Clearance: 15.3 feet (1931)
- Navigational Clearance:
- Stinnett, Chuck. “Spottsville bridge options to be studied.” Gleaner [Hendeson], 20 Sept. 2013, pp. 1A-8A.
- White, Douglas. “Work on ‘Kentucky Blue’ Spottsville Bridge begins soon.” Gleaner [Henderson], 20 Feb. 2020, pp. 1A-3A.
- “Celebration Held at Spottsville as Toll Taking Ends.” Owensboro Messenger, 26 Aug. 1945, pp. 1A-2A.
- “‘Milestone of Progress’ Willis Calls Freeing of Eight Bridges.” Owensboro Messenger, 26 Aug. 1945, p. 1A.
- Stinnett, Chuck. “A bigger, better bridge.” Gleaner [Henderson], 26 Aug. 2015, pp. 1A-8A.
- “Facts, Figures on Spottsville Span.” Messenger-Inquirer [Owensboro], 17 Dec. 1931, p. 1.
- “Bridge at Spottsville is Dedicated.” Messenger-Inquirer [Owensboro], 17 Dec. 1931, pp. 1-8.
- “Spottsville Span Ferry Franchise Deals are Closed.” Owensboro Messenger, 28 Jul. 1927, p. 1
- “Span Green River at Spottsville.” Owensboro Messenger, 11 Aug. 1928, pp. 1-5.
- “Sues to Halt Bridge Over Green River.” Messenger [Madisonville], 14 Nov. 1928, p. 1.
- “Henderson County.” Assessment of Kentucky’s Historic Truss Bridges, Kentucky Transportation Center, 2014, p. 56.
- Jacoby, Jessica. “Old Spottsville Bridge to be demolished in 4 phases; Roads closed for it.” TristateHomepage.com, 1 Oct. 2022.
- Williams, Brady. “Spottsville woman remembers father as new bridge opens to traffic.” 14News, 22 Aug. 2022.
- Mehling, Steve. “Officials celebrate new Spottsville Bridge.” 14News, 17 Aug. 2022.
- Stinnett, Chuck. “For second time in 91 years, woman cuts ribbon to open Spottsville Bridge.” Gleaner [Henderson], 18 Aug. 2022.
- Watkins, Monica. “Large truss imploded at Spottsville Bridge.” 14News, 17 Oct. 2022.