The arch – 110 feet tall and 5.1 million pounds – has been constructed and painted on barges at the east end of the construction site. Once a final date is confirmed for the move, the arch will be floated next to the main piers and jacked about 80 feet into the air. Barges will maneuver the span across the Kentucky Lake navigation channel and the arch will be lowered into position.
KYTC engineer Mike McGregor said the process will take 10 to 12 hours to complete and will require restrictions on both river traffic and the public. "Floating the new span into place is something akin to a space shuttle launch. The weather will have to be near-perfect. The navigation channel will be closed to commercial river traffic. Pleasure boat traffic will also be restricted around the site," McGregor said.
The existing bridge will be closed to vehicle traffic and detoured for up to 24 hours while the span is being moved into place. KYTC personnel, the U.S. Coast Guard, and other agencies will work to establish a 2,000-foot clear zone around the construction area during the move.
McGregor noted that when the replacement span on the existing bridge was floated into place in May 2012, a crowd of about 3,000 people gathered to observe. Cherokee Park, on the Marshall County side of Kentucky Lake, is recommended as a prime observation point for the public. It is just downstream from the new bridge and provides an unobstructed view. On the opposite shore in Land Between The Lakes, there will be limited opportunities to hike in for an overlook along the bluff between US 68 and Barnett Bay.
The Coast Guard will provide notice to the river industry that the navigation channel will be closed for up to 48 hours to accommodate setting of the arch.
Once the span is safely in place on the main piers, the contractor will be able to more accurately calculate the time needed to place a concrete deck on the structure. Once two travel lanes have been moved to the new structure, the contractor will build a permanent connection that will eventually allow four travel lanes with a multi-use trail across the bridge. Completing all of those permanent connections could take up to a year.
The new $131.5 million, four-lane bridge, which features a unique basket-handle tied arch design, will carry U.S. 68/KY 80 over Kentucky Lake and serve as the western entrance to Land Between The Lakes.