Officials with the Transportation Cabinet are now afraid the cargo vessel that struck the Eggner’s Ferry Bridge may have dislodged a pier holding the structure up.
A news release says divers were to place sensors on a pier of the bridge to determine how badly it was damaged and to determine if it is still moving.
Transportation Cabinet Secretary Mike Hancock says he has to know for certain if the pier shifted and if so, if it is still shifting. He says that will have a major impact on how the cabinet goes forward when deciding how best to resume traffic flow in some manner, if possible.
Officials said at a Friday news conference that it wasn’t likely a “patch job” could be done to the bridge because the missing section is 322 feet long—far longer than any bridge insert that could be brought in.
A ferry has also been suggested, but that would only transport an estimated 500 cars per 24 hours, while over 2,600 traveled the bridge on an average day.
The project is in the state’s road plan and is funded from next year through 2015, though the state has committed to speeding up the process as much as possible.
A ribbon-cutting and open house were held at the new Cumberland Hall Hospital on the south side of Hopkinsville Friday afternoon.
The 97 bed psychiatric hospital will hold double the number of patients as the old one and will include a military wing, children’s unit and large indoor-outdoor recreation areas to help patients in their recovery.
Among those in attendance for the event was State Senator Joey Pendleton, who said he knew it would be state of the art, but even he was surprised at just how nice it really was.
The Facility will cater to children, adolescents, adults and active duty military and will offer a variety of psychiatric services. The facility will continue to offer free assessments 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
Senator Pendleton says the facility on Sam Walton Way near the Wal-Mart Distribution Center is one of the best pieces of a growing area in southern Hopkinsville.
Also speaking at the event were Cumberland Hall CEO Jim Spruyt, Harley Watkins of Cumberland Hall, District Judge Jim Adams, Blanchfield Army Community Hospital Commander Colonel Paul Cordts and Senior Vice President for the Health Division at Universal Health Systems Debbie Osteen.
Lieutenant Governor Jerry Abramson and many other state and federal officials were at the Eggnar’s Ferry Bridge today surveying the destruction and talking about what comes next.
The Lieutenant Governor says he and Governor Steve Beshear had the same thoughts as everyone else at first—was anyone injured or killed?
Abramson, who has only been in office for a little over a month, said the U.S. Coast Guard will look into the unanswered questions as to why the captain of the Delta Mariner was not in the proper channel and why he tried to fit under a portion of the bridge which is far too short.
Lieutenant Governor Abramson praised everyone involved for a fast and efficient response—one that he says will continue for as long as is needed.
Joining the Lieutenant Governor at the scene of the bridge collapse was Kentucky Transportation Cabinet Secretary Mike Hancock, who addressed the most pressing need—a new bridge.
Hancock noted the replacement of the 80-year old bridge was already on the state’s road plan and said that project is now at the top of the list.
Ironically, Hancock was at a conference several states away Thursday talking about inland waterways and how they can be affected by such disasters.
Even in his capacity overseeing all roadways in Kentucky, Hancock said he even had to take a step back and say “wow” when walking up on a 300-foot section of the bridge completely gone.
The economic and inconvenience impact caused by the bridge collapse are hard to quantify, but Trigg County and state officials are doing their best to do just that.
Trigg Judge-Executive Stan Humphries says nearly 3,000 vehicles a day will have to find an alternative route to get across Kentucky Lake.
Secretary Mike Hancock admitted that “patching” the old bridge in the meantime is likely not a possibility and said a ferry would also be a difficult proposition.
Highway Department spokesman Keith Todd estimated a ferry may be able to carry about 500 vehicles back and forth across the lake in a 24-hour day, only about a sixth of the cars who took the route as of Thursday evening at 8 O’Clock.
Todd Fiscal Court met in regular session this morning and chose not to vote on second reading of a building inspection ordinance.
First reading of the proposal passed, which would make Pat Rhodes the primary inspector of homes and commercial businesses under construction in the county. The devil is in the details; however, as Judge Executive Darryl Greenfield became aware this week that the state mandated requirements for inspection ordinances require counties to inspect additions to homes in addition to new homes.
Judge Greenfield said he never wanted a person who was building a deck onto his home to have to pay for an inspection that likely isn’t necessary.
The Judge says if the ordinance passes, an exact amount on what will be charged would have to be set—probably somewhere in the 300 to 400 dollar range.
The idea of the ordinance is to protect the buyer from a builder looking to make a quick dollar by building sub-standard homes. Magistrate Brent Spurlin pointed out a recent inspection on a farm in Allensville, where a home was built with a “footer” that was set on top of the ground.
Magistrates asked for the public to let them know how they feel before the next meeting, which will be February 10th.
In other business, Todd County Coroner Bob Whittlesey said the doctor who performed autopsies at the medical examiner’s office in Madisonville has resigned and officials have been unable to find a replacement for her.
The coroner says after an unsuccessful search, the state decided to cease performing autopsies in Madisonville and all local cases will now have to be taken to Louisville if an examination is needed after a suspicious death.
He says that will put an extra cost and logistical burden on the county, but there isn’t anything that can be done.