The Eggners Ferry Bridge reopened today to traffic across Kentucky Lake from Marshall County to Land Between the Lakes. The bridge had been closed since late January after a cargo ship struck and collapsed a 322 foot span. Prior to the reopening the highway department allowed for visitors to walk or bike across the bridge.
Carolyn Winchester was one of hundreds of bridge walkers, who was impressed with the work that happened in just four months.
"I wonder how long it would take before it is rusted like the rest of it," Winchester said. "I'm amazed that they got it done in the time they got it done in. The majority of the 80 year-0ld bridge is plagued by significant surface rust.
Diane Barga who had motored down Kentucky Lake for her first glance, says she was surprised at the difference between the old and new span.
“From the water side it didn’t appear to be a whole lot (different) except the new top was flat and it’s more arched on the older part,” said Barga
Locating the original hand drawn blue prints for the bridge in archives at the State Capitol is part of the reason the new span looks so much like the old span. Transportation Cabinet Spokesman Keith Todd says it also helped speed up the process on the redesign by a couple of months. Barga despite being impressed with the span, is like many people who are still a bit skeptical of the sturdiness of the bridge. “I’ll let a few people go over first before I try,” said Barga. “I’m have a little phobia of bridges.”
Barga should have been more concerned of the swarm of bees who made the bridge their home during the four month hiatus of traffic.
Those concerned about the sturdiness though, shouldn't worry. Highway inspectors have combed every nook of the bridge and say the concrete on the new span is stronger than code requirements.
A 2009 traffic count reported nearly 3,000 vehicles cross the bridge each day. The reopening is welcome news to commuters through LBL and pleasure seekers this summer. An National Transportation and Safety Board and Coast Guard investigation into the January crash is ongoing.