Transportation officials are considering a way forward following a collision Thursday night that destroyed a 322-foot span of the Eggners Ferry Bridge over Kentucky Lake.
A bridge inspection team evaluated the Marshall County end of the structure Friday and determined it to be safe. The team was still evaluating the Trigg County side as of mid-afternoon Friday.
The inspection information will be key in determining whether the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet can move forward with any repairs or temporary measures, said Mike Hancock, state secretary of transportation.
“We’re working on two fronts. (We’re) working on potential repairs, temporary structures, whatever the case may be in that regard. We’re also taking every conceivable measure to see whether construction of the new bridge can be accelerated.”
Hancock said officials would discuss the issue of a temporary structure more over the weekend, but he could not offer any specifics on what form that might take.
As of Friday afternoon, the lake had not reopened to water traffic. Barges and other vessels were anchored at least a mile away from the collapsed bridge.
“A concern is the illumination of the bridge,” said Lt. Ron Easly, U. S. Coast Guard public affairs officer. “Right now, personnel are working to light the center span, which is the main channel to show where it is. There is no time frame on when that will be complete.”
“The main navigation channel wasn’t affected, so once the (Coast Guard) says the bridge is safe, ... then we’ll continue to use that,” said Col. James Delapp, of the U. S. Army Corps of Engineers Nashville District.
Delapp said the main channel is three spans down from the site of the collision It is unclear why the boat did not take that course, he said.
An investigation is underway by the U. S. Coast Guard and the National Transportation Safety Board into the cause of the crash.
The Delta Mariner cargo ship was reported to have been carrying rocket components from Decatur, Ala., to Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida when it hit the 80-year-old bridge. The ship had made the journey many times without incident, said Hancock.
The owner of the boat, Foss Maritime Company, of Seattle, was working on a salvage plan Friday, said Easly, but a time frame to remove the Delta Mariner had not been determined.
Highway detour routes around the bridge have been established over the Purchase Parkway and I-24. Commercial vehicles have been advised to avoid Ky. 453 and “The Trace.” However, locations in Land Between the Lakes National Recreation Site will remain open, with the exception of Fenton campground, said Denise Schmittou, LBL spokesperson.