The Kentucky Transportation Cabinet recently helped host a ribbon-cutting ceremony following the completion of the $63.6 million U.S. 60 Cumberland River Bridge project, which replaced a 1930s-era structure with 1,912-foot-long blue truss design that can hand broader multimodal use – especially for the movement of farm equipment.
[Above photo by the KYTC]
During the ceremony, Governor Andy Beshear (D) unveiled new highway signage paying tribute to the late Jim R. Smith, for whom the bridge is named and the founder of the firm that built it. “Kentuckians are going to love their new bridge, which will make their commutes safer,” said the governor in a statement.
The new bridge is 40-feet wide, with two 12-foot driving lanes and 8-foot shoulders. It also spans the river without piers in the water, eliminating an obstruction for river traffic, the governor noted.
Jim Smith Contracting partnered with American Bridge Co. to assemble and paint the new bridge’s 700-foot steel truss at the Paducah Riverport, then floated the new structure by barge 14 miles upstream on the Ohio River to the bridge construction site for crews to work on the bridge deck.
“This standout bridge assembled at the Paducah Riverport and transported to Smithland showcases the ingenuity used to usher in a much-needed structure that will be treasured for generations to come,” Gov. Beshear added.
The previous structure, known locally as the Lucy Jefferson Lewis Memorial Bridge, will be demolished in August and crews will complete final roadway resurfacing and finishing work for the new Jim R. Smith Bridge by December 2023.
“Despite numerous weather events during construction, work crews kept this project on schedule and on budget so it could open to the community as soon as possible,” said KYTC Secretary Jim Gray. “Drivers will enjoy wider driving lanes, new emergency shoulders and ample space for farm equipment to comfortably cross the river without halting traffic.”
KYTC added that the new bridge provides a significant cross-country link for U.S. Highway 60 through Western Kentucky and a critical connection for local Livingston County traffic as it is the only direct link for local commuters, commerce, school buses and emergency responders.