Search teams report no immediate indication of vehicles in water
FRANKFORT, Ky. (Jan. 27, 2012) – Two spans of the U.S. 68/KY 80 bridge over Kentucky Lake in far western Kentucky collapsed after being struck by a barge Thursday night.
There have been no reported casualties. Search teams in boats from the Aurora Fire Department and Marshall County Rescue Squad found no indication that vehicles fell from the bridge when the barge struck. The U.S. Coast Guard said the barge did not contain hazardous cargo.
Inspectors and emergency responders from the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet (KYTC) rushed to the scene. KYTC engineers made a preliminary inspection but are awaiting daylight to begin an in-depth inspection. They will be evaluating the stability of the remaining parts of the bridge as well as assessing the damage.
The two-lane bridge – formally the Eggner’s Ferry Bridge – is at the western entrance to Land Between the Lakes National Recreation Area. It opened to traffic in 1932. Its elevation was raised in 1943 when the Tennessee River was impounded to create Kentucky Lake.
On average, the bridge carries approximately 2,800 vehicles across the lake per day. The Transportation Cabinet is in the process of replacing the bridge, along with the nearby bridge over Lake Barkley on the eastern side of Land Between the Lakes. Preconstruction work, including geotechnical drilling, began months ago.
With loss of the bridge, motorists will be advised to take alternate routes, such as Interstate 24 around the northern end of Land Between the Lakes.