Environment
1:23 pm
Wed July 2, 2014

Old Ledbetter Bridge Demolition on Hold

Demolition is on hold for the Old Ledbetter Bridge spanning the Tennessee River in McCracken County.

June 22, an approach span collapsed after months of movement. The span began sinking months ago due to land slippage on the bank of the Tennessee.

The more than 80-year-old bridge has been out of service for less than a year. Kentucky Transportation Cabinet spokesman Keith Todd says the land movement was unexpected.

“Even though our people had been checking it from time to time, there had been no previous sign of any movement at the base of those land based piers. But, once the site of the bluff started moving, they have continued to move from time to time,” Todd said.

“One of the homes along the bluff has lost about half of their driveway.”

The Old Ledbetter Bridge after a partial collapse June 22.
The Old Ledbetter Bridge after a partial collapse June 22.
Credit KYTC

That's not all of the environmental changes; many trees and even a concrete stairway have moved to the bottom of the bluff.

Our region is home to many old bridges, some dating back to the 1930's.

Todd says the last several decades have dramatically altered the environment in which these structures reside.

“Over the 82, 83 years that that bridge has been there, the river has continued to move, the bluff has continued to move (…) You figure over a period of 80 years or so that there are going to be some changes in the landscape,” Todd said.

Todd says the KYTC has taken care to prevent a similar situation with the new bridge. The site was tested thoroughly via land sampling and drilling, and the structure attaches to a different stretch of shoreline.

Land slippage is not expected to be a factor.

Another ongoing KYTC project is that of the new Eggners Ferry Bridge. Todd says advances in engineering technology and earthquake resistance standards have helped greatly in ensuring the structure's safety.