Kentucky Transportation Cabinet inspectors were gearing up to respond to a barge hit reported on the US 68/KY 80 Eggners Ferry Bridge near Aurora, KY, this morning. However, as a bridge inspector and support team prepared to head to check the bridge structure, Trigg County Emergency Management was able to determine the hit was by a runabout or Jon boat, not a tow boat with barges as initially reported to the 911 call center.
At 2:43 a.m., CDT, Trigg County 911 Dispatch received a call that indicated a tow boat had hit the bridge and that some members of the crew were injured, with one thrown overboad by the impact. The caller further indicated the injured had been placed on a nearby barge. As emergency response efforts ramped up, dispatchers and US Coast Guard personnel were able to determine it was a 17 to 18 ft. Jon boat instead of a tow boat.
Trigg County Emergency Management Director David Bryant who was on-site with deputies and emergency medical personnel from both Trigg County and Marshall County, said three workers were reported injured when the small boat hit one of the piers on the existing bridge. He added that those injuries appeared to be non-life threatening. The small boat was believed to be supporting construction activities on the New Eggners Ferry Bridge just downstream from the existing structure.
Had a commercial tow boat been involved, the US Coast Guard normally would ask that the bridge be closed to vehicle traffic immediately, then summon a certified bridge inspector to run a safety check on the bridge structure.
Members of the watch team at the Coast Guard Regional Operations Center in Louisville were puzzled that the pilot of the boat had not contacted them as required after they received notice of the incident. It was only after they were able to contact the person who made the initial 911 call that they determined it was a much smaller boat.
David Bryant said Kentucky Fish and Wildlife had been contacted to assist with the investigation of the incident and that more information would likely be available after they prepared a report.
The US 68/KY 80 Eggner's Ferry Bridge is at US 68 Marshall County mile point 28.146 and Trigg County mile point 0.0 at the western entrance to Land Between The Lakes National Recreation Area. The Bridge carries approximately 2800 vehicles across Kentucky Lake/The Tennessee River in an average day.
The bridge opened to traffic in March 1932. A 322 ft. span of the Eggners Ferry Bridge was struck and knocked into Kentucky Lake by the 8200 ton Cargo Ship Delta Mariner on the night of January 26, 2012. KYTC engineers developed plans to rebuild the missing span and restore traffic to the bridge in 17 weeks.
The bridge is at Tennessee River navigation mile point 41.7 near Aurora , KY.
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