A 322-ft span of the U.S. 68/Kentucky 80 bridge over Kentucky Lake in far western Kentucky collapsed after being struck by a barge Jan. 26. Inspectors and emergency responders from the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet (KYTC) rushed to the scene. KYTC engineers are evaluating the stability of the remaining parts of the bridge as well as assessing the damage.
"Crews have worked tirelessly around the clock inspecting the bridge’s stability," Kentucky Transportation Secretary Mike Hancock said in a statement. "Assessing the condition of the piers will help us determine what we can do to restore traffic on U.S. 68 and Kentucky 80. We value the public’s patience and support during this inconvenient time."
The two-lane 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.
The bridge carries about 2,650 vehicles across the lake per day. KYTC is in the process of replacing the bridge, along with the nearby bridge over Lake Barkley. Preconstruction work, including geotechnical drilling, began months ago.
With the loss of the bridge, motorists are advised to take other routes such as I-24 around the northern end of Land Between the Lakes.