Media News Releases

Locals to narrow possible designs for lake bridges

By Julia Hunter, New Era Staff Writer

Later this month, area residents will be given the opportunity to help select designs for the two new bridges that are to be built across Lake Barkley and Kentucky Lake.

The Lake Barkley and Kentucky Lake bridges, which were built with the impoundment of their respective lakes in 1932, have been labeled as “functionally obsolete” and have had ongoing maintenance issues. Many motorists have complained the bridges are too narrow.

The new bridges, which have been on Kentucky’s Six-Year Road Plan since 1996, are expected to move toward construction between 2010 and 2011, according to Kentucky Transportation Cabinet officials. Last year, Gov. Ernie Fletcher announced the start of the design phase — a $2.5 million project.

During a July 19 meeting at Lake Barkley State Resort Park, which kicked off the design process, 300 citizens turned out to narrow the 23 bridge designs to nine using an electronic polling system, state highway officials said.

During an Oct. 18 meeting, the public will be asked to narrow those nine designs down to three.

“Through computer modeling, members of the community will be able to view the nine bridge types as they would look in context to the lake and approaching roadway,” said Transportation Engineer Branch Manager for Pre-Construction Tim Choate. “The modeling gives you a view of what it might be like to drive across the structure; what you’ll see and how it fits in with the lakes and surrounding scenery. Our goal is to allow participating citizens to express their preferences.”

During the polling process, which allows 150 participants at a time to provide information to the engineers, each person will have a keypad that will be used to answer a variety of questions regarding the bridges’ design elements. The public will be able to rate what they see on a scale from one to 10.

When the $150 million bridge project is completed, the new bridges will be four lanes wide and have a pedestrian-bike lane. A minimum of a 500-foot clearance for barges will be included in the design.

Before the bridge construction, likely sometime before the spring of 2008, the U.S. 68 corridor inside Land Between the Lakes will be widened, said Keith Todd, a spokesman for the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet. The expansion will cost $50 million.

The public meeting will be from 4 p.m. until 8 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 18, at Kenlake State Resort Park in Aurora. Presentations will be from 4:30 p.m. until 6 p.m.

A final public meeting will be held this winter to give the public the opportunity to comment on a preference out of the three final design alternatives. In the spring of 2008, engineers involved in the process will select one of the three bridge designs. Their decisions will be guided by previous input from the public.

Individuals who are not able to attend the public forum, but wish to have input in the bridge design can offer written comments. Comments should be mailed to Tim Choate, Project Manager, Kentucky Transportation Cabinet District One, P.O. Box 3010, Paducah, Ky., 42002. Comments can also be e-mailed to Choate at tim.choate@ky.gov.

JULIA HUNTER can be reached at 887-3262 or by e-mail at jhunter@kentuckynewera.com.