Governor Steve Beshear's Communications Office
Lagoon Bridge project gets underway, marking first step toward new bridge over Kentucky Lake at Aurora

Press Release Date:  Tuesday, May 07, 2013  
Revision Date:  Tuesday, May 07, 2013 
Contact Information:  Kerri Richardson
Terry Sebastian

‘Giant step’ forward in long-awaited Lakes Bridges project

FRANKFORT, Ky. — Governor Steve Beshear today announced the beginning of work on the first phase of a long-awaited project to build two badly needed bridges that will form a signature gateway to the Land Between The Lakes National Recreation Area (LBL) in western Kentucky.

Crews in the past week began clearing brush and trees to make way for construction of a bridge to span a lagoon on the western shore of Kentucky Lake. The new Lagoon Bridge will literally be a bridge to a bridge – serving as an approach to a new, four-lane bridge that will be built over the main lake to replace the 81-year-old Eggners Ferry Bridge.

Jim Smith Construction LLC is the prime contractor on the $24 million lagoon project, which also includes construction of earthen causeways on both sides of Kentucky Lake.

The lagoon project is part of a much larger project to build new bridges on both Kentucky Lake and Lake Barkley – near-twin basket handle, tied-arch spans that will carry a dramatically improved U.S. 68/KY 80 through LBL and Kentucky’s tourism-rich Western Waterland region.

“Construction of the Lagoon Bridge is a giant step toward realization of a long-held dream for the Jackson Purchase and Pennyrile regions – replacement bridges for both the Eggners Ferry Crossing on Kentucky Lake and the bridge over Lake Barkley at Canton,” Gov. Beshear said.

Kentucky Transportation Secretary Mike Hancock said the Lagoon Bridge project is under a strict timetable that should enable the Transportation Cabinet to contract for construction of the main bridge span in about a year.

The Lagoon Bridge contract allows 420 calendar days for completion, with milestones at 190 days and 270 days for completing tests required to advance the design of piers on the main structure to follow.

The Lake Bridges Project, which has been a high priority for Gov. Beshear, will result in the replacement of two functionally obsolete, two-lane steel bridges that were built in 1932 to span the mighty Cumberland and Tennessee rivers – long before the rivers were impounded to form the lakes and the federally operated LBL, one of Kentucky’s premier tourism and recreation destinations.

Each of the new bridges will have a 550-foot-long main span with travel lanes 11 feet wide. Each will have 4-foot-wide shoulders and an 8-foot-wide hike and bike path that will extend through LBL along the U.S. 68/KY 80 corridor.

The new bridges will be the only basket handle, tied-arch bridges in Kentucky and among fewer than a dozen believed to be in existence worldwide. Gov. Beshear announced the selection of the striking design in July 2009 following a three-year public participation process that included input from more than 300 citizens.

The bridges are being designed by two firms – Michael Baker Jr. Inc. and Palmer Engineering.

Each bridge will cost an estimated $165 million to build. Construction of the new crossings is expected to take five to six years each. The entire U.S. 68 corridor reconstruction, including the bridges project, is expected to be complete by late 2017.

The venerable Eggners Ferry Bridge was in the news in January 2012 when a cargo ship, the Delta Mariner, struck the bridge and tore away one of its spans. The 322-foot span was replaced in 121 days – in time for the tourism-critical Memorial Day weekend.