Statewide bridge repair program in Kentucky underway

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You’ve seen stories on construction on the Twin Bridges and, most recently, the Panther Creek Bridge outside Owensboro.

A statewide effort to rehab as many as a thousand smaller bridges across the state is underway.

“I think most of them are in pretty good shape and I thought that one was too,” says Dan Bell, who occasionally used the Long Falls Creek Bridge in McLean County.

“Only time we use that road is when we’re going to Hartford or if we’re going to Livermore,” he recalled.
It looked fine on the surface to him, but bigger problems lied underneath.

“When they started looking at this one, there are no wooden pilings underneath it. So, the erosion damaged the abutment, there was nothing else there to hold the bridge up,” says Keith Todd of the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet.

The bridge, just north of Calhoun, closed several days ago and awaits repairs. Todd says the damage may stem from erosion caused by recent heavy rains.

It happens at Kentucky Transportation’s new Bridging Kentucky program gets in to high gear. The six-year statewide program focuses on rehabbing state, county, and municipal bridges in mostly rural areas. Nearly $700 million will be invested.

“I think it’s about time. Sometimes they let them go until they get too bad,” says Jim Mullen of McLean County.

But the Long Falls Creek Bridge isn’t on the list. Todd says engineers are still determining whether it needs to be rehabbed or even replaced. He adds the list was compiled while the bridge was in good shape. Bell’s glad these smaller bridges are getting as much attention as their bigger counterparts.

“I’m glad they’re checking them out because there’s a lot of traffic on that road, and especially in the mornings and afternoons,” he says.

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(This story was originally published August 10, 2018)

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