Officials are unsure of the fate of the Panther Creek Bridge on Kentucky 81 after a truck hauling scrap metal struck the bridge and damaged the structure earlier this month.
Kentucky Transportation Cabinet Public Information Office Keith Todd said the bridge will remain closed for a minimum of three to six months.
Engineers are still examining the bridge, determining factors of cost and time for repair versus building a new bridge.
“It becomes a comparison on which of the options is best for the taxpayers,” Todd said.
Todd said KYTC’s legal team will look at the Aug. 14 incident to determine liability of the driver and also if insurance will cover any repair or replacement costs.
According to a Daviess County Sheriff’s Office citation, William T. Siddon, 43, of Owensboro was driving the truck that damaged the bridge. The report said Siddon’s load was too high to go under the structure of the bridge, causing DCSO to issue a $174 citation.
Opened to traffic in 1934, Panther Creek Bridge is a 246-foot structure with a 109-foot main span and includes a 6-panel Pratt through truss design. The structure underwent an $660,919 painting and maintenance project in the fall of 2018.
“It was in really good shape after that,” Todd said. “Engineers estimated we could get another 20 years of use out of this bridge. Now, of course, all of that has changed.”
Should engineers decide a new bridge is the best option, Todd said the drivers would be looking at least a year-long closure, possibly longer.
Todd estimates 5,200 vehicles a day, from cars and trucks to farm equipment, use Panther Creek Bridge. While the structure is closed to traffic, the detour via KY 554, KY 2127/Todd Bridge Road and Keller Road remains in place.