Safety around Garrison bridge addressed

Workers work to place a concrete deck on the new Garrison bridge. - Brandon Howe Photo

Workers work to place a concrete deck on the new Garrison bridge. – Brandon Howe Photo

The new Garrison bridge over Kinniconick Creek is open to traffic but the project isn’t complete, leading to some safety concerns.

Judge Executive Todd Ruckel said he has heard from some motorists who are concerned about the present lack of guardrails along Ky. Rt. 8 in the project area on either side of the new bridge.

Those safety measures will be implemented before the project is declared complete this spring, Ruckel said.

“There are guardrails near the bridge but they are not reaching farther away where workers cleared the trees and developed the area on the approach in either direction,” Ruckel said.

“I have talked with District Nine Chief District Engineer Bart Bryant on the matter to improve safety in the short-term,” he added.

Ruckel said the discussion has included temporarily reducing the posted speed limit for the roadway in that area and ensuring the roadway is treated during times that slick spots may develop through winter.

“We feel the area is safe for motorists but we do want to urge those traveling in that area to exercise caution, as we all should on every roadway every time we get behind the wheel,” he said.

An informal bridge dedication was held when the bridge opened to traffic after months of being closed for the replacement project.

“We worked really close with the transportation department,” Ruckel said during that ceremony. “Bart (Bryant) and his staff have been tremendous on anything we’ve tried to help with. We’ve worked really good together and I appreciate that from those guys and their staffs.”

“I know for the folks here in town, this has been a long time coming,” Bryant said. “We appreciate Todd’s support of the project, and the fiscal court’s support of the project and we appreciate your all’s patience as we took out the old bridge and spent all summer long building the new bridge.”

“We’re not completely done with the project,” Bryant added. “We’re happy to have it open to traffic, I know that’s a big impact to all of you’ll and that’s something that you’ve been looking forward to,” he told the gathering for the opening. “I just want to caution everybody, we still have barrels up but we don’t have guardrail up so please tell your neighbors and friends, and your family, and I’ll caution youall as you come through, we’ll still have our contractors out finishing up.”

“It was important for us, and, really, it was a commitment from (Todd Ruckel and me) to make sure we did open up the bridge just as soon as we possibly could,” he said. “This bridge . . . geologically, was kind of a challenge to build and we had some issues trying to overcome some of the abutments and some of the embankments that were needed to build the bridge, but it’s a good bridge. It’s about $5 million. It’s a sound investment in the community. This community is very important to us, as well as I know how important is is to you, Todd, and to our magistrate (Woody Underwood) here as well.”

“We want to thank local residents for their patience in allowing us to close the road to get the bridge in place quicker; and we want to thank the contractors, Bush and Burchett Inc., who worked diligently through flooding and some geologic issues to get it open within a couple weeks of our target date,” said Allen Blair with the Kentucky Department of Transportation.

The new steel and concrete bridge is stronger, wider and better than the original 1930s structure, and will enhance the Garrison community for many years to come, Blair said.

” It is still a construction zone and will be until fully complete in the spring,” Blair added. “Work remaining includes roadway shoulder construction and final blacktop surface, which will then allow for permanent guardrail installation, and final landscaping.”

Ky. Rt. 8 at the location closed in mid-March 2017 so a new bridge could be constructed in place of the old bridge. Bridge completion and a base layer of asphalt allowed traffic to resume November 29. Plans called for opening it to traffic as soon as possible to alleviate the main traffic impact of the job — the detour — then complete the rest of the project.

Because the project is still under construction, the area remains a work zone and roadway shoulders are closed.

“We’ve placed barrels to delineate the shoulder closure,” Blair said.

“We are monitoring the situation, and will consider additional ways or signage to highlight the shoulder closure and other travel restrictions,” he said.

Until the shoulder work and final blacktop surface can be completed in the spring, which will allow for guardrail installation, the area will remain a work zone and motorists should drive with caution, Blair cautions.

A more formal dedication of the span is planned for when the project is completed.

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