Monday, November 14, 2016

Meeting presents options for new Smithland bridge

The next step toward a new bridge over the Cumberland River at Smithland will take place this week.

The Kentucky Transportation Cabinet and the Federal Highway Administration have scheduled a public meeting to discuss the replacement of the U.S. 60 Cumberland River Bridge in Smithland.
KyTC District 1 Chief Engineer Mike McGregor urges anyone having an interest in the project to attend.

“We’ll have displays available to illustrate the design for reconstruction of the Smithland Bridge available for public review and comment,” McGregor said. “This meeting will offer the public an opportunity to discuss the project with our engineering and design staff, as well as with consulting engineers from Stantec.”

The meeting is not for just Livingston County residents, but anyone who may travel across the bridge, which includes many Crittenden Countians on a regular basis for school, work, shopping and doctor visits. It will run from 5 to 7 p.m. Tuesday at the KyTC Smithland Section Office at 811 U.S. 60 East. The section office is along U.S. 60 just east of the bridge and east of the Livingston County Fairgrounds entrance.

The Kentucky Legislature included $870,000 in its Road Plan for utilities and right-of-way acquisition. Another $15 million was penciled in for construction in Fiscal Year 2018.
Regardless, a new bridge is still a few years away.

"The main thing is that this will allow us to move ahead with right of way acquisition, which is about a year-long process," said KyTC spokesman Keith Todd. "That would set things up to move ahead once full funding for construction becomes available."

McGregor said participants can provide both written and oral comments at the meeting. Comment sheets will be distributed, and a court stenographer will be available for those who desire to make a written or oral statement.

While McGregor encourages attendance at the meeting, citizens who are unable to attend may submit comments in writing before Nov. 30. Comments may be addressed to Chris Kuntz, Project Development Branch Manager, Department of Highways District 1 Office, 5501 Kentucky Dam Road, Paducah, KY 42003.

The meeting will be an informal format with opportunities to view displays and ask questions. Transportation employees and their consultants will have exhibits at the meeting and will share information with the public concerning the project design and future right-of-way acquisition impact. Materials presented at the public meeting will be available for review at the KyTC District 1 office in Paducah until Nov. 30. Office hours for the District 1 office are 7 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. Comments may also be provided at the time of the visit.

The existing U.S. 60 Cumberland River Bridge at Smithland is also known as the Lucy Jefferson Lewis Memorial Bridge and the Smithland Bridge. The 1,817-foot through-truss structure was opened to traffic in 1931. About 5,100 vehicles cross the bridge in an average day.

Per executive order, KyTC is seeking to engage low-income and minority populations that may be present in the project area. This engagement would facilitate the identification of all potential impacts to underserved populations and the development of a range of minimization and mitigation measures that would serve to offset potential effects.