A Kentucky bridge mangled by a cargo ship in January will be back up and running by Memorial Day—months earlier than originally estimated—thanks to an emergency $7 million appropriation for round-the-clock repair work.
The Kentucky Transportation Cabinet (KYTC) has awarded the $7 million Eggners Ferry Bridge repair project to Hall Contracting of Kentucky Inc., the company that last month completed repairs ahead of schedule to reopen the Interstate 64 Sherman Minton Bridge in Louisville.
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|The 8,200-ton cargo vessel tore out a 322-foot span of the bridge. The U.S. Coast Guard is investigating.|
Detailed engineering and design work required to produce new steel for the repair has already begun, the company said.
The Eggners Ferry Bridge collapsed about 8 p.m. Jan. 26 when a cargo vessel struck and tore away a 322-foot-long span of the 80-year-old bridge, which carries U.S. 68 and KY 80 over Kentucky Lake. More than 2,600 vehicles a day use the bridge.
The U.S. Coast Guard is still investigating how the Delta Mariner, carrying a 16-member crew, smashed into the bridge piers that Sunday night. The 312-foot-long, 8,200-ton cargo carrier vessel was carrying aviation and aerospace components for the U.S. Air Force and NASA when it slammed into the bridge. Although several vehicles were on the bridge at the time, no injuries were reported.
‘Get This Bridge Repaired’
“Since the night the bridge was struck and the highway was severed, we have worked with one thought in mind—to get this bridge repaired and Route 68/80 reopened as quickly as possible,” Kentucky Gov. Steve Beshear said in a statement.
“We have never lost sight of the damage that the loss of this bridge is doing to area businesses and the toll it has taken, in time and fuel costs, on folks who have been forced into long detours to get from one side of the lakes to the other.”
The repairs will be complete “a lot sooner than I thought possible when we first saw what happened,” Beshear said at a press conference on March 8. “Engineers were telling me it might require another pier or two,” with repairs taking until October.
“We were fortunate that underwater inspection revealed no damage to the bridge’s piers,” Beshear added. “And we were fortunate to be able to track down the original design plans.”
To save time, KYTC decided to make an emergency solicitation rather than follow its customary construction procurement process, in which a project is designed and put out for bids.
The cabinet invited “a select group of prequalified bridge contractors” to submit bids by March 7, the governor’s office said.
|Hall Contracting recently finished repairs to the I-64 Sherman Minton Bridge ahead of schedule. The contractor’s other projects include the Highway 68 bridge (pictured) in Cadiz, KY.|
Contractors were given access to the bridge’s original design plans and recent inspection reports. Each contractor was instructed to submit a lump-sum price that included all costs for engineering, materials, labor and equipment needed for repairing the bridge’s pier caps, replacing the truss span and reopening the bridge.
The critical requirement—sealed with a $50,000-day-penalty for falling short—was to reopen the bridge to traffic by May 27, the governor’s office said.
Hall’s bid bested that of Walsh Contracting, of Crown Point, IN ($11.2 million), and C.J. Mahan, of Grove City, OH ($11.4 million).
Hall has said that it will run crews of 30 to 40 people around the clock, if necessary, to make the deadline.
Hall, an employee-owned company founded in 1954, provides construction services in the areas of heavy construction, electrical, civil, pipeline, highway and bridge work.
Scope of Work
The project requires a new asphalt or concrete deck 20 feet wide, comporting with dimensions of the rest of the existing bridge, and a railing system at least as strong as the existing rails. In addition, the truss must be given one primer coat of paint that closely resembles the color of adjacent spans.
KYTC had considered using a ferry service instead of repairing the bridge, which is due to be replaced in the next few years. However, a ferry could carry only 40 cars per hour, which would “create an unreasonable bottleneck,” the governor’s office said.
Ferry service would also probably require construction of access roads and possibly dredging of the lake. “By the time those accommodations were finished, the bridge would be likely close to completion,” the governor’s office said.
Plans to replace the Eggners Ferry Bridge and a similar bridge over nearby Lake Barkley are still in the pre-construction phase. Beshear’s budget proposal, sent to the General Assembly on Jan. 17, provides a total of $330 million in construction funding for the two bridges.