Ledbetter bridge weight limit difficult to enforce, county asks for help
LIVINGSTON COUNTY, Ky. — The saga of a popular bridge with a very unpopular weight limit continues as a local sheriff warns some truck drivers are blatantly disobeying the new load limit.
The Transportation Cabinet made it clear when they decided to impose that new limit, if folks don't obey, then the Tennessee River or "Ledbetter Bridge" could be shut down to all traffic.
That's got a lot of commuters worried and a local sheriff saying he needs help enforcing that weight limit to prevent closure.
Livingston County leaders said it comes down to money and manpower, mainly money. The sheriff said he desperately needs an officer at the bottom of the bridge at all times but for a department already stretched thin, that would require overtime pay for officers.
That's money the county just doesn't have.
Folks in Livingston County said if the bridge closes they'll have even bigger problems on their hands.
"If we don't try to do a better job, the bridge is going to shut down and who is it going to impact? The people of Livingston County," Livingston County Sheriff Bobby Davidson said.
While U.S. 60 and the Ledbetter Bridge don't belong to the county, the sheriff feels like all the problems fall on his lap.
"That's a state highway. It's not a county highway but it's in my county," Davidson said.
He needs more money to get cruisers out of the parking lot and to send deputies to the bottom of the bridge, to cite people who disobey the weight limit.
"They would probably love the overtime but I don't have the money for it," Davidson said.
The sheriff pleaded his case before the fiscal court Tuesday night and the Livingston County judge executive said he recognizes the problem.
"It looks like enforcement is going to have to be stepped up," Judge Executive Chris Lasher said.
But he feels the state should step up and help with funding. Sheriff Davidson said something has to be done.
"In order to keep that bridge from shutting down totally, I think we're going to have to come together and do a better job than what we're doing," Davidson said.
On Wednesday, the sheriff is meeting with the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet to express his concerns.
Over on the McCracken County side, Sheriff Jon Hayden said they, too, really don't have enough manpower to monitor the bridge all the time but if the state requested additional assistance, then his department would help.
Everyone wants to do whatever it takes to keep the bridge open.
The sheriff said his department only gets a small percentage of the fines. The rest goes to different county departments. That's why he asked the county for help.
The judge executive didn't rule that out. They're just waiting to see what takes place at that meeting Wednesday.
Kentucky Transportation Cabinet spokesperson Keith Todd told Local 6 the cabinet continues to look for ways to repair the bridge to buy time until construction of the new bridge is complete in 2014.