Perry County bridge looking for a new Kentucky home

By Hayley Robb, Building Kentucky

The Kentucky Transportation Cabinet (KYTC) plans to replace a nearly century-old bridge in Jeff, Kentucky as part of the Bridging Kentucky initiative, a program focused on improving the safety and soundness of Kentucky’s most critical bridges. The existing bridge is a two-span pony truss bridge that carries Kenmont Road over the North Fork Kentucky River. The bridge is approximately 202 feet long with a 20-foot-wide concrete deck.

Built in 1926, the bridge has been deemed eligible for the National Register of Historic Places. It has become a piece of the Commonwealth’s past and the Federal Highway Administration and KYTC recognizes that.

Together, the Federal Highway Administration, Kentucky State Preservation Office and KYTC have created a program that allows individuals, government agencies and historic preservation offices to preserve the existing bridge and re-erect it elsewhere for use or exhibition.

“This program provides an opportunity for local governments or individuals to take part in historical preservation,” said Brandon Baker, environmental coordinator for the Department of Highways District 10 in Jackson, who oversees the bridge relocation program for Perry County. “All proposals will be seriously considered.”

The program requires the original characteristics of the bridge to be retained at the new site. Historic organizations and individuals must also be approved by the state historic preservation office to be eligible for the program.

KYTC and FHWA will cover the costs of marking the bridge, disassembling it and transporting it to the new site. The recipient will be liable and responsible for maintenance at the proposed new site, permits associated with the bridge and all other costs, including site preparation, reassembly, replacement of parts and construction of approaches.

“The district has done these relocation offers in the past, and received national and international press coverage, with inquiries from all across the United States and from as far away as Great Britain,” Baker said.

Interest and possible uses for the existing bridge are far and wide – from serving as a bicycle or walking trail for pedestrians to providing a stream crossing at a local golf course. Although the costs for transporting the bridge tend to limit relocations in or near the state, this is a connection welcome to all.

“We welcome inquiries from anyone who might be interested in giving this bridge a new lease on life,” Baker said.

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