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State awards contract for Eggner's replacement

BY LAUREL BLACK lblack@paducahsun.com

The Kentucky Transportation Cabinet has awarded a contract to build the first of two bridges that will serve as entrances to Land Between the Lakes.

Johnson Brothers Corp. of Fort Worth, Texas, won the contract with its bid of $131.5 million, according to Gov. Steve Beshear. The four-lane bridge will carry U.S. 68 and Ky. 80 over the Tennessee River near Aurora.

The new bridge will replace the two-lane Eggner's Ferry Bridge, which connects Marshall and Trigg counties. Transportation Cabinet spokesman Keith Todd said work will likely start in March, with the new bridge opening in December 2015.

A span of Eggner's Ferry Bridge collapsed in January 2012 after a cargo vessel struck the bridge, but plans to replace it had begun around 2008. The bridge was built in 1932 and is structurally obsolete, Todd said.

"It was an engineering marvel when it was constructed," he said. "That bridge has functioned well over its lifetime, and continues to function, so we're pleased to have the new one started."

The new bridge will feature 11-foot-wide lanes, 4-foot shoulders, and a 10-foot-wide pedestrian and bicycle path. It will also allow 67 feet of clearance for sailboats, Todd added.

The awarding of the contract was delayed briefly after another contractor, CJ Mahan Construction Company, filed a complaint against Johnson Brothers. In light of the complaint, a bid committee reviewed the bid from Johnson Brothers to ensure it met the technical requirements, Todd said. Johnson Brothers won the bid over seven other contractors.

Marshall County Judge-Executive Mike Miller said the community has anticipated the replacement bridge for some time.

"After the collapse of the old bridge, it had everybody scratching their head, wondering when we were going to get the new bridge," he said. "So we're excited."

Construction workers seeking housing, food and other amenities will provide a short-term boost to the area's economy, while the completion of the bridge should help the tourism industry, said Randy Newcomb, executive director of the Marshall County Tourist Commission.

"With the amount of traffic that goes through that area, a four-lane bridge is greatly needed," he said. "I'm just happy that the contract has been awarded and we can get moving forward."

The new bridge is part of the larger Lakes Bridges project, which also includes replacement of the Henry Lawrence Memorial Bridge on Lake Barkley. The Transportation Cabinet plans to award a contract for the second bridge by December.

Contact Laurel Black, a Paducah Sun staff writer, at 270-575-8641, or follow @LaurelFBlack on Twitter.

Comments made about this article - 1 Total

posted on: Wednesday, February 12, 2014 1:18 PM

Title: Pat

I like that the new bridge is being built as it is needed but why in the world would they give the contract to a Texas company with the high unemployment rate in Kentucky. We need to keep Kentucky jobs in Kentucky.

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