Murray, KY – A large boat designed to transport space-related rocket components hit and collapsed part of the US 68/KY80 Eggner's Ferry Bridge spanning Kentucky Lake last night. The nearly 80 year old bridge is the western entrance to Land Between The Lakes National Recreation Area. Four vehicles were on the bridge when it was struck, but authorities say all four, along with their occupants, were safe and accounted for. Rescue officials say the 312-foot Delta Mariner struck the road deck of the bridge. The ship is a supply vessel designed to navigate shallow inland waterways and the open ocean. Inspectors and emergency responders from the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet remain on the scene. Transportation spokesman Keith Todd says clean-up may take days.
Boat traffic has been restricted on Kentucky Lake and the bridge itself has been closed to travel. The bridge carries approximately 2800 vehicles across Kentucky Lake and the Tennessee River in an average day. Highway officials had planned maintenance work on the structure's navigation lights today, but they say lights from the Delta Mariner's direction of approach were working. Authorities have closed the bridge to vehicle traffic.
The bridge also carried fiber optic lines across the lake, and the damage has affected internet service for parts of the Jackson Purchase. Murray State was also affected by an internet outage, but is now operating on a backup system. MSU officials say it could be days before this connection can be repaired.