Tractor-trailer rigs will need to take a 120-mile detour to cross the Kentucky River in Western Kentucky since the Ledbetter Bridge on U.S. 60 now has a three-ton limit. Effective Tuesday only cars and pickup trucks are allowed to use the bridge, according to the Paducah Sun.
The weight limit on the bridge, built in 1931, is needed to assure traffic safety while a new bridge is built about 1,500 ft. upstream, according to state highway officials. The new span is scheduled for completion in 2014.
Officials said the bridge will be checked regularly to be sure it’s still safe for four-wheelers.
“We are in the process of replacing this bridge,” Kentucky Transportation Cabinet spokesman Keith Todd said. “It is a matter of can we keep it in a safe condition ... until the new bridge is open. We’re going to be asking that question every day from here on.”
Two detours are available for trucks that are too heavy for the bridge. Smaller commercial trucks can use Interstate 24 to exit 31 and take Kentucky 453, Todd said. However, 18-wheelers will be forced to take a longer detour, traveling to Marion on U.S. 60, where they can get on U.S. 641.
Local businesses that rely on commercial truck traffic predict the bridge closure will impact their bottom line. Livingston County Livestock Auction manager Raymond Green said the detour will cost his business dearly. “It’s going to pretty well shut us down,” he said. Green’s facility handles about 1,200 head of cattle each day.
Green said moving cattle will take more time and cost more with the detour. He predicts the 120 extra miles will mean an increase in his operating expenses since truckers charge $3.60 per loaded mile.
“It’s going to cost a lot to go around,” Green said.