Ledbetter bridge expected to open in the next few weeks

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Reporter - Mychaela Bruner
Photographer - Mike Spissinger

LIVINGSTON COUNTY, Ky. - Out with the old and in with the new. For more than a year, construction crews have been working on a $100 million project. Now transportation officials say it is getting closer to completion.

The new US 60 Tennessee River Bridge will replace the 82 year old original bridge that connects McCracken County to Livingston County. Transportation Department Spokesman Keith Todd said drivers only have a few more weeks to drive across the two lane, 82 year old bridge. But, businesses said they are losing money because of the bridge and a few more weeks just is not soon enough.

Construction of the new bridge, also known as the Ledbetter Bridge, is taking longer than many hoped. Todd said, "There's still several hundred feet of the side barrier wall still to construct on both sides. We also have the finger joints to install at the end of the bridge."

But, Todd said it is not due to the lack of effort. "They've been doing 10-12 hours a day, 6 days a week pretty much for the last year. They realize the restrictions on the old bridge are causing some problems," said Todd.

J.A. King and Company General Manager Kent Smith said the restrictions are hurting his business. Smith said, "Instead of being able to drive 15 minutes it takes us about an hour and 30 minutes."

Smith said driving around the bridge is an expensive option. "It costs us about $1,500 a month, and that's about $18 to $20,000 a year, just in fuel," said Smith.

Todd said within a week, he hopes to have a date for the opening of two lanes of the bridge. He also said when the new Ledbetter Bridge is complete, there is about a $2.5 million budget to demolish the old bridge.

Until then, it is a waiting game. Smith said, "My truck will be the first truck that drives across that bridge just as soon as they tell us we can."

Smith said that day will not come soon enough. Todd said ignoring the road closed signs could result in trespassing charges and fines. When the bridge opens in a few weeks, there will only be two lanes open to the public. That way, construction crews can continue completing work on the other side of the bridge. When the construction is finally complete, there will be four lanes of traffic and a bike lane. Todd said he hopes by the middle of next week, he will be able to pinpoint a grand opening date.

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