The two replacement bridges are part of the US Highway 68 corridor reconstruction project, which is slated to be completed by late 2017, according to a press release by Chuck Wolfe of the Governor’s Office.
The twin basket handle, tied-arch 550-foot, four-lane spans will include 11-foot lanes, four-foot shoulders and an eight-foot sidewalk and bike path, Wolfe said.
“I’m thrilled to present a design that makes a bold statement about western Kentucky and the Lakes region,” Beshear said. “These impressive structures will form a signature gateway to the Land Between the Lakes and two essential components of a modernized ‘68/80’ corridor.”
The bridges will replace two narrow two-lane steel bridges that were built in 1932 to cross the Cumberland and Tennessee Rivers before those rivers were made into Lake Barkley and Kentucky Lake, Wolfe said.
Kentucky Transportation Secretary Joe Prather said that anyone who has traveled on the current bridges will understand why new bridges are necessary. The new bridges, as well as a wider Highway 68, will make it easier for tourists to access Land Between the Lakes, Prather added.
Beshear said that although the bridges served their purpose well, they have become inadequate as people haul RVs, boats and wide loads with sport utility vehicles and other large vehicles.
The governor also said that this and other construction projects will help create jobs in the state, adding that while it might take some time for the economy to fully recover, said recovery will come.
In a press release, David Graham, chairman of the Lakes Bridges Citizens Advisory Committee, said that the committee, which worked with the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet during the bridge selection process, is pleased with the design that was chosen.
“We sought to choose a design that complements the natural appeal of the Land Between the Lakes, sets our region apart and adds distinction to the lakes region skyline,” Graham said. “This design accomplishes those goals while keeping costs within reason.”
At a public hearing about replacement bridges in November, the four bridge options presented had price tags of between $390 million and $490 million.
The first option presented in November was a diamond tower cable-stay bridge, with the cost for both bridges estimated at $460 million; the second option was a single tower cable-stay bridge, with an estimated cost of $450 million; the third option was a girder bridge, with an estimated cost of $390 million; and the fourth option was a median tower cable-stay bridge, with an estimated cost of about $490 million.
“There are no other bridges in Kentucky like this, just as there is no other place in Kentucky like the Land Between the Lakes,” said Beshear.