No Damage After Barge Hits Cumberland Bridge

A loaded rock barge hit a pier of the Cumberland River bridge in Smithland, Ky., briefly closing it July 19, but an inspector found no damage.

The bridge carries U.S. 60 at Mile 2.7.

The Kentucky Transportation Cabinet reported that the Coast Guard was notified at 5:40 p.m. Sunday that 11 rock barges had broken loose from a fleeting area around Mile 5. Six were reported to be tied together, and the rest were drifting downstream individually.

Livingston County Emergency Management Director Daniel Newcomb confirmed that one of the barges struck the single in-water pier on the bridge. The mv. Patriot was in the area and was able to retrieve all of the barges by about 6:45 p.m., said Keith Todd, spokesman for the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet’s district 1 office in Paducah.

The Coast Guard Marine Safety Unit at Paducah was investigating.

The bridge reopened to traffic about 7:30 p.m.

Bridge Replacement Planned

The bridge is scheduled for replacement, with construction expected to ramp up beginning August 1 and continue for the next three years. The $63.6 million project calls for a 1,912-foot bridge to be built immediately downstream from the 89-year-old existing structure.

The Seamen’s Church Institute worked with the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet on determining bridge design and alignment, and the new design calls for no bridge piers to be in the water at normal water levels. The existing bridge pier has been a frequent target of barge strikes over the years.

Jim Smith Contracting is the prime contractor on the bridge replacement project. Maintenance work on the existing bridge started earlier this month to ensure it can maintain traffic while the new bridge is under construction.

Jim Smith Construction is partnering with Johnson Brothers Construction to assemble structural steel for the 700-foot main truss for the new bridge. It will be assembled off-site, floated into position by barge, and lifted into place in the fall of 2022.

The replacement bridge has a targeted completion date of December 1, 2023.