Midsummer Opening Targeted For Ledbetter Bridge
By Keith Todd, KY Dept. of Transportation
LEDBETTER, KY - The contractor for the new US 60 Tennessee River Bridge at Ledbetter had mixed news for the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet this week.
KYTC District 1 Chief Engineer Jim LeFevre said that while the new bridge is still on track to open well ahead of the original schedule, it will not likely be ready for two-lane traffic in May or June.
"The more likely time frame for opening the bridge is mid-summer," LeFevre said. "Our contractor continues to be committed to getting traffic on the new bridge as quickly as possible. Workers have already starting placing forms to prepare for pouring a deck on the main truss span."
The updated timetable came in the form of a regular progress report from the contractor. LeFevre noted that while work is ahead of schedule on the approach spans, progress on the main truss has been slowed by weather and delays in shipments of steel from mills and fabricators in Minnesota and Wisconsin.
In May 2012, transportation officials negotiated a $3.8 million incentive package with the contractor, Kay & Kay/Haydon Brothers. The goal was to get the new bridge opened at least to two-way traffic as much as 14 months ahead of schedule to help alleviate traffic restrictions caused by a 3-ton load limit on the existing bridge.
Starting May 1, the state will deduct $19,000 per day from the incentive fund until two-lane traffic is established. If traffic is not running on the new bridge by Sept. 1, the contractor will not receive incentive money.
LeFevre says the new bridge is still likely to be open to two-lane traffic almost a year ahead of the original schedule.
"We’re still on track to get two-lane traffic moving over to the new bridge in mid-summer," LeFevre said. "That is our ultimate goal, to restore full connectivity for residents of McCracken County and Livingston County that has been disrupted by the 3-ton load limit on the existing bridge."
Even with a mid-summer opening, the contractor can still claim a portion of the $3.8 million in incentives by cutting almost a year off the original July 2014 opening date.
Some of the time saved on the project comes from placing 2-lane traffic on the new bridge while half of the truss is being painted, then shifting traffic to allow painting of the rest of the structure.
Advancing completion of the new bridge was considered the best option after the load limit on the existing bridge had to be reduced to 3 tons in January 2012. The load limit restricts the aging structure to vehicles no larger than passenger vehicles and unloaded standard pickup trucks. Eliminating truck traffic from the existing structure has created a hardship for area businesses and farmers.
"I know the 3-ton load limit has created issues for area businesses by rerouting truck traffic and other large vehicles," LeFevre said. "We've continued to make necessary repairs and conduct regular inspections to assure the bridge can remain open for commuter traffic while work progresses on the new bridge."