US 68/Ky 80 Eggner's Ferry Bridge sections collapse after cargo ship strike

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Web Editor - Michael Vick
Web Editor - Jay Marchmon

MARSHALL COUNTY, Ky. —  Two spans of the U.S. 68/KY 80  Eggner's Ferry Bridge over Kentucky Lake in western Kentucky collapsed after being struck by a cargo ship Thursday night.

Editor's note: Updated with new video and interviews.

There have been no reported casualties. Search teams in boats from the Aurora Fire Department and Marshall County Rescue Squad found no indication that vehicles fell from the bridge when the ship struck. The U.S. Coast Guard said the ship did not contain hazardous cargo.

Twenty people were on board the motor vessel Delta Mariner, and all are accounted for with no injuries.

The Delta Mariner is a 312-foot-long ocean vessel that was built to ferry Boeing Delta IV rockets. The ship is 82 feet wide and stands 50 feet tall. It has a top speed of 15 knots in the open sea.

It varies its draft by using water as ballast, allowing it to cruise in waters as shallow as nine feet at up to five knots, according to Space.com.

 

 (Earlier video of the collision)

The Coast Guard has closed Kentucky Lake and the Tennessee River to boat traffic at the site.

Some of the lights were not working on the bridge. The Coast Guard notified barge companies of the lighting problem, and the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet (KYTC) had planned to restrict traffic to one lane Friday to allow electrical work on the structure’s navigation lights.

Inspectors and emergency responders from KYTC rushed to the scene. KYTC engineers made a preliminary inspection but are awaiting daylight to begin an in-depth inspection. They will be evaluating the stability of the remaining parts of the bridge as well as assessing the damage.

The two-lane bridge is at the western entrance to Land Between the Lakes National Recreation Area.  It opened to traffic in 1932. Its elevation was raised in 1943 when the Tennessee River was impounded to create Kentucky Lake.

On average, the bridge carries approximately 2,800 vehicles across the lake per day. The Transportation Cabinet is in the process of replacing the bridge, along with the nearby bridge over Lake Barkley on the eastern side of Land Between the Lakes. Preconstruction work, including geotechnical drilling, began months ago.

With loss of the bridge, motorists will be advised to take alternate routes, such as Interstate 24 around the northern end of Land Between the Lakes.

Local 6 continues to cover the developing story and bring you the latest information. Watch the video for interviews from the scene with KYTC spokesperson Keith Todd and motorists on the bridge just before the cargo ship struck.

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