Friday, August 2, 2019

State accepts sole bid for Weisenberger Mill bridge; job to take 6 to 9 months but starting date is not set yet

The bridge, the historic mill and the creek in June
The state Transportation Cabinet decided Friday to accept the sole bid of $877,000 for the long-delayed replacement of the Weisenberger Mill Bridge.

Louisville Paving Co. was again the sole bidder. Its bid was almost 42 percent above the state engineers' estimate of $618,959, but that was much closer than its first bid: $1.95 million, 2¾ times the estimate of $709,889. The estimate was lowered because part of the project was made part of an overall contract the state has issued for certain work.

Construction is expected to take six to nine months, but a starting date has not been set. That will be discussed at a pre-construction meeting at the cabinet's District 7 office in Lexington, said Natasha Lacy, public information officer for the district.

The bridge across South Elkhorn Creek, the border of Woodford and Scott counties, is nominally Woodford's responsibility, under a longstanding agreement between the counties, but the state agreed to take responsibility for it several years ago.

Heavy trucks taking shortcuts have been blamed for wearing down the bridge. The state closed it July 1, 2016, after inspectors found it was not safe for a load of three tons.

Replacing the one-lane span, built in the early 1930s, has been complicated. The first plan was for a two-lane bridge, but the cabinet changed it to one lane, with the pony-truss style of the old bridge, to assuage public concern that a modern concrete span would detract from the scenic nature of the site and encourage speeding, causing accidents in the sharp curve on the Woodford County side.

Since the bridge has historical significance and is a state responsibility, the project had to undergo review by the State Historic Preservation Office and the Kentucky Heritage Council, as well as an environmental impact report to federal officials. The project was delayed at least a month by negotiations over construction easements.

The bridge's closure has further isolated the largely African American community of Zion Hill, at the southern tip of Scott County. Woodford County has been providing emergency services to the area.

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