Engineers are optimistic they will be able to load and move the replacement span of the Eggners Ferry Bridge by barge on Friday or Saturday, but contractors note there are still plenty of details to work through.
Wednesday, Hall Contracting of Kentucky workers continued tightening and checking the 14,000 bolts required to connect beams that make up the 322 ft. replacement truss. Kentucky Transportation Cabinet Inspectors were working alongside the assembly crew at the Eddyville Riverport to run safety-checks on a substantial number of the bolts to assure they are properly secured.
One end of the 322 ft. long truss was rigged for lifting by a crane. Workers were putting the finishing touches on the rigging to assure a hanger being used for the lift was properly secured to the bridge floor beams. As soon as bolts on the opposite end of the truss are properly tourqued, a crew will start preparations to attaching rigging required for a second crane that will be needed to lift the steel frame.
As it sits, the steel frame weighs about 200 tons. Lifting that kind of weight and moving it onto a barge requires a lot of detailed planning. Crane operators spent the day checking and re-checking their equipment and rigging. Meanwhile, Hall engineers are closely monitoring weather and wind conditions critical to the move.
Engineers hope to be able to move the steel truss onto two barges for a 30-mile trip by water down Lake Barkley, through the LBL Canal, then up Kentucky Lake to Aurora sometime Friday or Saturday. On arrival, the span will be lifted onto the awaiting piers of the Eggners Ferry Bridge.
Once the steel truss is in place on the bridge, workers will immediately start placing forms and reinforcing steel required to pour a new concrete deck on the new section. The concrete will then need several days to cure before traffic can be fully restored at the crossing.
Due to the intense level of work at the riverport, police have secured the area as a safety measure. No unauthorized personnel will be allowed to enter the riverport.
The US 68/KY 80 Eggners Ferry Bridge has been closed since January 26th when the 8200 ton cargo ship Delta Mariner slammed into the bridge and knocked a single 322 ft. span into Kentucky Lake.
Hall Contracting has a $7 million contract to replace the missing span with a requirement that the bridge be reopened to traffic by Memorial Day weekend. The bridge serves as the western entrance to the Land Between The Lakes National Recreation Area, providing a key transportation link for summer tourism travel in the Kentucky’s Western Lakes Region.
The Eggners Ferry Bridge normally carries about 2,600 vehicles across Kentucky Lake each day at the Marshall-Trigg County Line between Aurora and Cadiz.
The Eggners Ferry Bridge was opened to traffic in 1931. It was raised in 1946 when Kentucky Lane was impounded. Efforts to construct a new bridge at the Eggners Ferry site and a new bridge over Lake Barkley at Canton are now in pre-design phase.