Kentucky Transportation Cabinet officials are monitoring the deteriorating stability of the Old Ledbetter Bridge after sensors detected significant movement early this morning.
Last month, the KYTC ordered an emergency demolition of the old U.S. 60 bridge over the Tennessee River between McCracken and Livingston counties after a landslide caused two of the piers to shift.
Seismic sensors placed on the bridge indicated movement today at about 5:15 AM. A neighbor also reported two distinct sounds coming from the 83-year old structure at about that time.
KYTC Spokesman Keith Todd says he arrived on the scene this morning to find that one of the piers on the McCracken County side had apparently shifted causing about a 1 ft. drop in the deck span above.
"In the meantime, it’s probably dropped another two or three inches since we were here early this morning," said Todd. "At this point, as far as impacting the demolition schedule, it probably won’t. The demolition team is starting to show up here now. They have a small crane set up and they’re going to use it to assemble a much larger crane that will then be used to demolish this end of the bridge."
He says there have been several shifts since officials began monitoring bridge activity April 30th.
"One of the more significant things is when we first arrived here our inspectors used an old, concrete stairway to go down the bluff to access the bottom of the bridge and that stairway has now eroded away and is now at the bottom of the bluff somewhere," said Todd.
KYTC inspectors indicate the girder that sits on top of the pier is hanging on by just inches. The decking on the three approach spans remains standing, however they have dropped several feet since movement along the bluff was discovered in April. Two land-based piers are leaning toward the west end of the bridge.
A joint venture of Haydon Bridge and Kay and Kay Construction companies will carry out the demolition as a change of contract following completion of finishing work on the new U.S 60 bridge.
KYTC warns the public to avoid areas along the bluff and Tennessee River shoreline near the bridge. The Coast Guard is working to minimize boat traffic through the waterway while demolition is in progress.
Todd says contractors have already started to begin setup for demolition with an estimated completion date of December 1st.
Also known as the George Rogers Clark Memorial Bridge, The Old Ledbetter Bridge was opened to traffic in 1931. It has been closed since traffic moved to the New US 60 Tennessee River Bridge at the end of July 2013.