Bridge at Ledbetter to open in about a week
Two-lane traffic could be open around July 30
PADUCAH, Ky. (July 24, 2013) – The new U.S. 60 Tennessee River Bridge at Ledbetter may be ready for two-lane traffic around Wednesday, July 30.
“Above average rainfall and the daily grind of placing rebar and pouring concrete has made it difficult for our contractor to be specific about when the new bridge will be ready for traffic,” said Jim LeFevre, Chief District Engineer for the Kentucky Department of Highways in District 1, Paducah.
The new, four-lane bridge was originally scheduled to open one year from now – July 2014. But recognizing the importance of the river crossing to commuters and commerce in Livingston and McCracken counties, the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet (KYTC) and the contracting team – Kay & Kay Construction Co. and Haydon Bridge Co. – devised a way to get the bridge partially opened, with two lanes of traffic, ahead of schedule.
The key to the plan is that the contractors will paint the bridge truss in sections – one side at a time. When the first half of the truss is painted, traffic will be shifted to allow painting of the other half.
However, opening the new bridge 12 months early creates additional challenges for KYTC engineers and the public.
A “long-term temporary” connector from the new bridge to U.S. 60 requires two 90-degree turns just off the Livingston County end of the bridge. That may create issues for large trucks hauling grain and livestock.
“When we expedited work on the bridge, it advanced well ahead of efforts to construct a new U.S. 60 around the south side of Ledbetter,” LeFevre said. “But there will eventually be a new, four-lane connection directly to the bridge.”
The new bridge replaces the two-lane Ledbetter Bridge, which was built 82 years ago. Deterioration of the old bridge forced KYTC to impose a 3-ton load limit and prompted the decision to accelerate completion of the new bridge.
If the new bridge is opened to two-lane travel by Aug, 1, the contractor will collect about $2 million in incentives. LeFevre indicated the new bridge could be fully open, with four traffic lanes, by late fall or early spring.
Updated information about the Ledbetter Bridge, or changes in the functional status of the existing bridge, will be posted for the public at www.facebook.com/kytcdistrict1.