Kentucky Transportation Cabinet officials can give no estimate of when repair or reconstruction of Eggner’s Ferry Bridge will take place until an underwater engineering assessment of the structure’s eastern pier is completed.
That’s the message KYTC District 1 Chief Engineer Jim LeFevre brought to members of the Murray-Calloway County Economic Development Corporation during a meeting Thursday morning.
After speaking to EDC board members, LeFevre spoke to the Murray Ledger & Times concerning the latest information available. LeFevre said divers are now completing sensor-placement and other underwater assessment procedures to determine the condition of the supporting structures.
“They are going to dive down to the bottom of these piers that potentially could have been impacted by this collision, and they are going to give us a written report,” he said. “Were they damaged, and is there any concern about their structural capacity?”
Until the work is completed, no decision or timeline concerning repair or reconstruction can be determined.
“Beyond that the cabinet has not ruled out any options as far as making temporary repairs to the bridge to put it back in service,” he said. “We are preparing contingency plans and there are several options.”
LeFevre said officials are satisfied the remaining western section of the bridge is structurally sound.
“We feel really good about the remaining structure on the west side. We think we have no structural problems there,” he said. “Once we get this report we will be able to evaluate whether we can use the bridge.”
EDC President Mark Manning said he and the EDC board appreciated LeFevre’s visit.
“We were really glad to have him with us this morning to give us an overview of what is going on with the progress on the new bridges that are in the six-year road plan,” Manning said. “We know his time is extremely tight right now and it’s really good to know that our public officials are on top of it and doing all they can to make a bad situation better.”
Another issue KTC is dealing with is the presence of the Delta Mariner, the cargo vessel that struck the bridge during passage Jan. 26 bringing down an approximate 300-foot section. LeFevre said the ship likely will remain on-site until an assessment is made to determine if it can move on without risking further damage from debris in the water.
“I can’t speak with 100 percent accuracy but my understanding is that they want a clear understanding of what the debris field looks like,” LeFevre said. “Obviously, when they begin moving, they don’t want to do any more damage.”
Pointing out that the bridge was 80 years old, he said any repair work on the vessel before it can move on would have to consider the presence of lead-based paint as workmen cut through metal that remains wrapped around the forward end of the ship.
“I’m sure they are working on a plan to accomplish all this,” he said.