Bridge repairs to finish on schedule

According to information provided by the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet, Hall Contracting of Kentucky Inc. located in Louisville, Ky., hopes to have the replacement span for the Eggners Ferry Bridge assembled and ready for transportation by next week.

Officials from the contracting firm said the progress of the structural steel for the new span continues as it is being assembled at the Eddyville Riverport in Eddyville, Ky.

Over the past weekend, workers assembled the flooring frame of the new truss section and assembled the deck support structure. Workers also completed part of the upper truss.

They have continued placing and assembling steel flooring supports for the replacement span throughout the week. Once the steel beams were temporarily bolted into place, workers went back and permanently attached the floor beams to the structure’s other elements.

After total assembly of steel for the new truss span is complete, it will be placed on a barge to be transported to the site and placed on the existing piers. On Wednesday the crew placed two concrete pedestals on the pier cap on the Trigg County side of the bridge. The concrete will need to cure for several days. Workers poured the concrete for the Marshall County side of the bridge on Thursday. Continue reading “Bridge repairs to finish on schedule”

Beshear outlines bridge construction measures

Gov. Steve Beshear addresses a group of city and University officials who gathered at Calloway County High School Wednesday to dedicate a citywide sidewalk initiative allowing those high school students easier access to downtown Murray. || Kylie Townsend/The News

Gov. Steve Beshear visited the Lyon County Riverport Authority in Eddyville, Ky., Wednesday to discuss details regarding repairs to the missing span of the Eggners Ferry Bridge.

The Delta Mariner ocean vessel, struck the bridge on Jan. 26., demolishing a 322-foot portion of the bridge.

The site in Eddyville, Ky., will play host to the assembly of the steel truss, which will be used for a replacement span to temporarily repair and reopen the bridge.

Hall Contracting of Kentucky Inc. crews are fabricating the steel at the company’s main site in Louisville, Ky., and will ship them to the Lyon County Riverport for assembly.

Once completed, the truss will be transported by barge to the bridge and attached via crane.

The contracting agency has a deadline of May 27. Beshear reiterated his emphasis on the deadline to assure traffic was restored for the summer tourism season in western Kentucky. Continue reading “Beshear outlines bridge construction measures”

Coast Guard, Safety Board hold Eggners Ferry Bridge hearings

The United States Coast Guard and the National Transportation Safety Board convened for a special series of public hearings this week. Their inquiries were focused on the deteriorated conditions of the navigation lights on the Eggners Ferry Bridge and the navigational abilities of the Delta Mariner crew.

Hearing Officer Lt. Salinas called upon Thomas Hines, transportation engineer supervisor of the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet, to answer questions about light maintenance on the bridge. Hines is responsible for 12 counties in western Kentucky.

During his interview, Hines said that before the Delta Mariner hit the bridge in January, another towboat, Miss Katie, struck the bridge. Continue reading “Coast Guard, Safety Board hold Eggners Ferry Bridge hearings”

KTC begins bridge analysis, repairs

Photo courtesy of Kentucky Transportation Cabinet

Crews have begun work on the Eggners Ferry Bridge almost three months after the 2,800-ton Delta Mariner NASA cargo ship collided with the main span, causing a 322-foot bridge section to collapse.

Several tons of twisted steel and roadway came crashing atop the ship and into the Kentucky Lake that night, leaving the bridge impassible and surface damaging the Delta Mariner.

Weeks later, the cargo vessel was moved upstream for repairs, but the bridge, a main traffic artery between extreme western Kentucky and the rest of the state, lay injured and untouched until now.

Early last week, Kentucky Transportation Cabinet officials began surface preparations to temporarily replace the missing bridge span. The work comes a month after Gov. Steve Beshear visited the bridge site and announced the acceptance of a $7 million bid proposal for repair work from Hall Contracting of Kentucky Inc. to complete work on the bridge by Memorial Day weekend.

Continue reading “KTC begins bridge analysis, repairs”

Beshear: Bridge repairs to be completed by May 27

Meghann Anderson
Staff writer

Chris Wilcox
Staff writer

Chris Wilcox/The News

Gov. Steve Beshear announced Thursday at the Kenlake State Resort Park in Hardin, Ky., that an emergency contract to repair and reopen the damaged Eggners Ferry Bridge has been established.

On the night of Jan. 26, the bridge was struck by the Delta Mariner, a cargo vessel, which tore away a 322-foot stretch of bridge.

The repairs to the damaged bridge are to be completed by Memorial Day, if not, penalties will be issued by the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet. The penalty includes a fine of $50,000 for each day past the May 27 deadline.

The KTC accepted a $7 million bid proposed by Hall Contracting of Kentucky Inc. Continue reading “Beshear: Bridge repairs to be completed by May 27”

Bridge determined structurally sound

Austin Ramsey
News Editor

The piers adjacent the 322-foot missing section of the Eggners Ferry Bridge are structurally sound, state officials announced late last week.

At a news conference in Frankfort, Ky., Friday, Gov. Steve Beshear told reporters there was “no significant damage” to the piers, following a Kentucky Transportation Cabinet investigation led by Chief District Engineer Jim LeFevre.

On Jan. 26, the Delta Mariner, an 8,600-ton ocean-going vessel carrying rocket parts collided into the bridge, bringing debris onto the ship and the surrounding water.

The ship, on its way to Cape Canaveral, Fla., waited with the wreckage on its bow for nearly two weeks, before the KTC assisted a local company in removing the fallen tresses. The U.S. Coast Guard gave the ship the go-ahead to dock in Paducah, Ky., where Foss Maratime (the ship’s owner) workers repaired the ships bow. Continue reading “Bridge determined structurally sound”

Beshear visits fallen bridge

Gov. Steve Beshear addresses a group of reporters in front of the Eggner’s Ferry Bridge Wednesday. He charged the state with initiating a temporary ferry. || Austin Ramsey/The News

Austin Ramsey
News Editor

Gov. Steve Beshear announced a push to instate a temporary ferry service at the U.S. 68/ Ky. Hwy. 80 crossing over the Kentucky Lake today, after a cargo ship damaged the existing bridge late last month.

The Delta Mariner, a 2,800-ton freight vessel collided with the Eggner’s Ferry Bridge on Jan. 26, bringing a 322-foot span of the bridge crashing down on the ship and the water around it.

The governor flew to the eastern shore of the Kentucky Lake to assess the damage first-hand with Chief District Engineer Jim LeFevre of the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet.

Beshear told a group of reporters in front of the bridge he was thankful no one had been hurt in the bridge collision, but it was the now the state’s responsibility to restore traffic on the bridge, which carried about 2,800 cars a day.

“It’s not a great answer because of the amount of traffic on this highway, but it is at least a partial answer and a little bit of help not only for our traffic but for our businesses, for our parks, for the tourism trade and for folks that need to go back and forth,” he said. Continue reading “Beshear visits fallen bridge”

Crews free Delta Mariner

Kentucky Transportation Cabinet crews work above and below the water to remove bridge debris from the bow of the Delta Mariner Saturday. || Kylie Townsend/The News

Austin Ramsey
News Editor

Portions of the 322-foot span of bridge draped over the Delta Mariner were removed over the weekend, giving the 2,800-ton freight ship enough room to move down river Monday.

The ship, which struck the Eggner’s Ferry Bridge over Kentucky Lake two weeks ago has sat dormant under the bridge since the incident, pending approval of a salvage plan by the ship’s owner Foss Maritime.

That plan came late last week and Kentucky Transportation Cabinet officials approved it immediately, making way for a maritime crane and several salvage dive crews to cut the underwater pieces of the bridge away from the ship beginning Saturday and finishing Monday, when the Delta Mariner was given U.S. Coast Guard approval to engine down the river to a shallow bay.

“The salvage operations are proceeding as planned, and it is a significant milestone that the ship has now been relocated downriver and clear of the Eggner’s Ferry Bridge,” Cmdr. Claudia Gelzer, of the Coast Guard Marine Safety Unit in Paducah, Ky., said.

Officials with the Land Between the Lakes National Recreation Area opened part of the U.S. 68/Ky. Hwy. 80 through the area east of the bridge Saturday to give locals the chance to see the bridge, ship and salvage operations first-hand.

Nicole Hawk, a media representative with LBL, said the protected national area provided the clearest and closest safe view of the bridge.

“There was a lot of public interest in seeing this area,” she said. “A lot of people use this bridge on a regular basis.”

Hawk said the area has experienced a slight decrease in visitors, and said she hoped the viewing time over the weekend would remind people that LBL is still in full operation, despite the closure of the bridge.

KTC officials spent the weekend working only a few hundred feet from salvage crews, as they are developing plans on how to restore the heavy bridge traffic.

A dive team assessed the bottom of the lake under the bridge and the piers on either side of the fallen span, following doubts that arose after the incident as to the stability of remaining portions.

Keith Todd, a spokesperson for the KTC, said more accurate tools were placed Tuesday to measure how much movement the bridge piers are experiencing (if any), including laser points placed on and off shore and surveying data collected along the bridges railing.

“We’re trying to provide as much information as possible, so when we do get to a point of being able to repair the bridge or whatever decision is made, we will have as much pre-engineering work done as possible,” he said. “So when we get to that point, we can move ahead fairly quickly.”

He said the KTC was evaluating six different restoration options, but would not say what those options were at present.

On Thursday, a KTC inspection team rappelled down four different piers of bridge to determine whether any exterior damage was caused where new portions of concrete were added to heighten the crossing for the expansion of the Tennessee River in the mid-1940s.

Todd said work is also underway to regain grid power to the bridge.

When it was struck, lighting for the entire structure went down with the bridge span, so KTC personnel have manned two generators on the Marshall County side of the bridge to power navigational lights.

Housing offering lower room fees for commuters

Olivia Medovich
Staff writer

Due to the collapse of the Eggner’s Ferry Bridge, the Murray State Housing Department and Residence Life is offering an additional housing option for students with a longer commute.

Commuting students are now able to rent housing spaces for the remainder of the semester at a prorated cost.

Tracy Roberts, interim registrar, said there are 271 commuter students from Trigg and Christian counties who attend classes at the main campus. Out of those 271 students, 210 of them are full-time.

Don Robertson, vice president of Student Affairs, said commuting students’ ability to drive to campus every day has changed dramatically.

“There comes a point when commuting becomes much more difficult and inconvenient,” Robertson said.

He said the University is trying to be proactive with the situation and provide on-campus housing as an alternative option for comuters.

“We can now offer a prorated rate to make it more attractive for them to do that, which is only the fair thing to do,” Robertson said.

John D. Wilson, director of housing and residence life, said he made the suggestion to offer the opportunity to impacted students during his weekly meeting with Robertson.

He said a few students have inquired and shown interest.

The cut rate would depend upon which residential college the student was assigned to, Wilson said.

“An example of this is that a student who moved into Regents when we opened for the spring semester was charged $1,996,” he said. “A student who moves into Regents today would be charged $1,643.76 for the remainder of the spring semester.”

Chelsea Brown, senior from Hopkinsville, Ky., said she now has a 180-mile round trip from her home to campus each day.

“It’s a good extra 30 to 40 minute drive,” Brown said.

She said she has considered the housing option, but would only need it for 38 days this semester and cannot afford to pay the prorated cost.

“I have a house in Hopkinsville and I’m not going to pay the $1,500 prorated rate for the rest of the semester,” Brown said.

She said she is looking at other less expensive options to ease her commute.

Since the bridge collapse, Brown along with a fellow nursing student have been staying at Murray Plaza Lodge, a hotel in Murray, at a discount rate.

Ray Osher, owner of Murray Plaza Lodge, said he was happy to help the students and ease their commute by letting them stay for a less expensive rate.

“We are dedicated to education and to people bettering themselves,” Osher said. “They need all the aid and resources they can get.”


State evaluates damages, options

Austin Ramsey
News Editor

Jordie Oetken/The News

Officials with the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet and the U.S. Coast Guard are hastening to provide answers and solutions after an ocean-going freight ship struck the Eggner’s Ferry Bridge over the Kentucky Lake Thursday, Jan. 26.

The Delta Mariner, 312-foot long transcontinental vessel struck the bridge at around 8 p.m., causing a 322-foot segment of the bridge to come crashing on its bow.

Immediate responders included the Aurora (Ky.) Fire Department and the Marshall County Rescue Squad. Those agencies determined no cars had gone off the bridge platform with the debris.

Today, the ship sits dormant along the shores of the lake, with the crumpled wreckage of the bridge still on top of it and a crane standing at a tall attention on the western bank. Emergency services have long gone, and concrete dividers support the nearly 2,800-cars-a-day traffic the bridge is used to carrying along U.S. 68/Ky. Hwy. 80. Continue reading “State evaluates damages, options”