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Old Ledbetter Bridge Partially Collapses, KYTC to Conduct Investigation


The Kentucky Transportation Cabinet reports that part of the Old Ledbetter Bridge over the Tennessee River collapsed early this morning. 

Kentucky State Police contacted KYTC engineers with word that the two land-based piers at the west end of the structure and the 3 approach spans supported on the McCracken County side of the river had dropped to the ground around 2:10 AM Sunday. 

Sensors placed on the bridge indicated the approaches dropped at 2:07 AM.

The approach spans had significant movement during the early morning hours Friday and had continued to move a few inches a couple of times a day since then. 

After the approach spans slid to the ground this morning, KYTC officials immediately contacted the US Coast Guard to alert tow boats in the area. The Coast Guard had already advised boats to avoid stopping in the river near the bridge.

After an initial check of the fallen approach spans on the Old Ledbetter Bridge, inspectors found one of the approach spans is still elevated. The section attached to the main truss is suspended above the ground supported by one land-based pier that is standing but severely leaning. 

Area law enforcement agencies have secured the site until assessment efforts can continue.

The 83 year-old structure has been closed since the end of July 2013 when US 60 highway traffic was moved to the new US 60 Tennessee River Bridge upstream.

On Friday, contractors began setting up equipment to begin demolition of the bridge over the next 6 months. A small crane and track hoe were on-site with parts of a 200-ton crane expected to start arriving for assembly over the next 3 or 4 days. 

KYTC officials continue to warn the public to avoid areas along the bluff and Tennessee River shoreline near the bridge as they assess the stability of the bluff and fallen approaches. 

Also known as the George Rogers Clark Memorial Bridge, the Old Ledbetter Bridge was opened to traffic in 1931 connecting Livingston County and McCracken County between Ledbetter and Paducah. It has been closed since traffic moved to the new US 60 Tennessee River Bridge at the end of July 2013. 

Rob Canning is a native of Murray, KY, a 2015 TV Production grad of Murray State. At MSU, he served as team captain of the Murray State Rowing Club. Rob's goal is to become a screenwriter, film director or producer and looks to the likes of Quentin Tarantino and Guy Ritchie for inspiration. He appreciates good music, mainly favoring British rock n' roll, and approves of anything with Jack White's name on it. When not studying, rowing or writing, Rob enjoys spending his free time with a book or guitar.
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