Land Between the Lakes Replacement Bridges

Marshall and Trigg Counties, Kentucky

The two bridges carrying US 68/KY 80 over Kentucky Lake and Lake Barkley connect to the Land Between the Lakes (LBL) National Recreation Area, a 170,000-acre public recreation area managed by the U.S. Forest Service. The replacement of the bridges is associated with a larger effort to widen and improve U.S. 68/KY 80 to a four-lane highway in western Kentucky. Studies and inspection reports determined that both bridges were dangerously narrow and in dire need of replacement.

Our team worked with a citizens' advisory committee and used a three-round public involvement process to identify aesthetic preferences for the new bridges that would meet the engineering, environmental and budget requirements of the project, which is located in a highly critical seismic zone. Michael Baker developed 3D models of alternative bridge types to create renderings by superimposing models onto photos and displayed the renderings at the public meetings.

After reviewing nearly a dozen potential bridge designs, a basket handle, tiered-arch bridge was selected as cost effective gateway structures into the LBL. The two new 550-foot-long, four-lane bridges feature 11-foot-wide lanes, four-foot-wide shoulders and 10-foot-wide shared pedestrian and bicycle paths, with a 60-foot minimum vertical clearance. Shared-use paths connect with pedestrian and bicycle paths in the LBL and the adjacent Kenlake State Resort Park and include underpasses so that pedestrians and cyclists can follow the trails without having to cross four lanes of traffic on U.S. 68.

We have provided engineering services for the replacement of the bridges since 2007. Our team provided project management, a bridge-type study, surveys and mapping, roadway alignments, pavement design, drainage design, maintenance-of-traffic plans, right-of-way plans, permit coordination, utility coordination, agency and stakeholder coordination, environmental compliance support, preliminary and final design, document management and construction coordination services.

Environmental permitting and agency coordination requirements presented challenges throughout the course of the project, as different agencies have jurisdiction over different depths of the lakes. The Tennessee Valley Authority, which created the lakes by impounding the rivers, has been actively involved in the project. To protect a 700-acre habitat restoration preserve for elk and bison, the team coordinated with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Kentucky Division of Fish and Wildlife, Kentucky Parks Department and the U.S. Forest Service.

Click here to watch The Lake Bridges of Western Kentucky, a documentary that explores the need and challenges of simultaneously replacing the two 1930s era bridges spanning Kentucky Lake and Lake Barkley.

Standard of Excellence

“The basket handle, tiered-arch design of the twin bridges is the first of its kind in Kentucky, forming signature gateways at the eastern and western entrances to the Land Between the Lakes and adding new landmarks in Kentucky’s Western Waterland region.”

Jason S.
Deputy Project Manager

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