Initial reaction to accident at ‘the other bridge’
by Justin McGill, General Manager -- jmcgill@cadizrecord.com
Feb 01, 2012 | 15 15 recommendations | email to a friend | print
They have official names, but the one in Trigg County is “Lake Barkley bridge.” The one in Marshall County is “the other bridge.”

The other bridge – or Eggner Ferry Bridge – was hit by a big boat Thursday night, knocking off a 322-foot portion.

My initial reaction, just before 8:30 p.m. Thursday – was anyone on the bridge? Is anyone hurt? Worse?

Thankfully, the answers to those questions were all good – four cars on the bridge, no one hurt or worse on the bridge or the boat.

Prior to receiving those answers, though, my mind shot immediately into worst-case-scenario mode. And that sent me to this: Our replacement bridges, the ones that are supposed to be completed in this decade, are already over two decades overdue.

I know no one really wants to do this, but do it anyway. Think about what the response would have been if someone had been seriously injured or killed Thursday night. Where does blame go?

It would have gone to the same place it’s going now – the captain and pilot of the Delta Mariner.

For many people, blame would also belong to those government officials over the years who have waited and waited and waited to get those bridges in the state road plan. I know money is an issue. So is safety. Which is more important?

However, someone made an interesting point to me Friday: Based on the size and potential speed of the Delta Mariner, a new bridge probably would have been damaged just as badly as the current one. I’ll say a new bridge would be expected to be sturdier, and its construction might end up placing it somewhat higher over the water, but the point remains. When you drive a boat that large to a place it should not be, there’s a good chance something bad will happen. I suppose we’re fortunate it hasn’t happened before, and we’re definitely fortunate it didn’t happen during a tourist-heavy time of year.

Many of our readers will not be seriously impacted by this inconvenience (which, as of press time, we have no timetable for). It probably means less trips to Belew’s in Aurora and not much else.

However, I know there are many folks taking classes at Murray State University who used that bridge on a regular basis, as did those who frequent Murray-Calloway County Hospital. There are folks who drove that bridge every day going to and from work, myself included.

And I know a bunch of you don’t want to think about this one either, but here it is: Folks in eastern Calloway and Marshall counties will now have to go elsewhere to buy alcohol for the forseeable future. That’s an economic hit – less significant, probably, than the hit we’ll take in tourism dollars, but a hit nonetheless.

What’s most important here? Safety. We’re blessed that no one was hurt. And, as long as people heed warnings to avoid sight-seeing on the bridge (lest you earn criminal charges), there is no significant threat of injury any time soon there.

Also important, let’s make sure emergency responders receive credit for all the work they did over those first few days. Many fought through sleepless nights and deserve our thanks.

Where do we go from here? For now, I-24.

Justin McGill is executive editor of The Cadiz Record and can be reached by email at jmcgill@cadizrecord.com.
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