Many Disregarding Ledbetter Bridge Restrictions
By WestKyStar Staff
PADUCAH, KY - Efforts to keep vehicles from violating the 3-ton load limit on the US 60 Tennessee River Bridge between Paducah and Ledbetter continue to show an amazing number of drivers disregarding the weight restriction. Officers have written more than 1,000 citations while stationed at the bridge since the end of February.
When it became apparent that an ongoing police effort would be required, the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet and Kentucky State Police worked with the Livingston County Sheriff and McCracken County Sheriff to provide a long-term enforcement.
To keep officers from being pulled away from other duties, the bridge was placed in a work zone enforcement program that allows off-duty Kentucky State Police Troopers and Commercial Vehicle Enforcement Officers to be stationed at the bridge.
According to KSP Lt. Brent White, troopers and officers continue to write a surprising number of tickets for a wide variety of violations of the 3-ton load limit and the 35 mile per hour speed limit on the bridge.
“Since the end of February thru July 31st, 2012 KSP has dedicated over 2,727 hours of patrolling and enforcing these restrictions,” White said. “KSP has issued 360 total speeding citations, arrested 3 DUI offenders, issued 68 occupant restraint citations (seat belt & child restraint violations), issued 572 other citations, and we have issued 305 total courtesy warnings at the bridge site. Many more potential violators have been stopped and turned around prior to committing a dimensional violation; however the geographic location of the bridge and its size, make it difficult for law enforcement to stop every offender before they cross the bridge.”
White noted that many of the 572 “other” citations were for being overweight or disregarding traffic regulations and signage.
During the first month the load limit was in place, KSP Operations Division, Commercial Vehicle Enforcement Division, Livingston County Sheriff, and McCracken County Sheriff cooperated to divide enforcement duties at the bridge. However, the effort pulled officers away from their regular patrol and enforcement assignments. With the police presence funded under the work zone program, officers volunteer to work special assignment at the bridge on their regular day off to avoid pulling officers from regular patrol duties.
“If it were not for this enforcement program, it is estimated that this bridge would be in jeopardy of being closed to all traffic, with long detours for local and inter-area traffic,” Lt. White said.
Currently, the 3-ton weight limit on vehicles and vehicle combination units remains in force. There is also a 35 mph speed limit on the bridge.
According to Kentucky Transportation Cabinet District 1 spokesman Keith Todd, the enforcement effort is an important part of keeping the bridge open for local commuter traffic.
“While most area citizens realize the importance of maintaining local commuter traffic on the bridge, there were a few who continued to violate the 3-ton load limit,” Todd said. “It became apparent that keeping a police presence at the bridge was the only way to assure compliance with the posted limit so the bridge could remain open for passenger vehicle traffic.”
Also known as the George Rogers Clark Memorial Bridge and The Ledbetter Bridge, the US 60 Tennessee River Bridge connects McCracken County to Livingston County between Paducah and Ledbetter. The bridge is at US 60 Livingston County mile point 0.0 and McCracken County mile point 19.718. The bridge was opened to traffic in 1931 and now carries approximately 7,800 vehicles across the Tennessee River in an average day.
A new bridge under construction about 1500 ft. upstream from the existing bridge is scheduled for completion in mid-2014.