JACKSON, KY – With the deadline for applications fast approaching, the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet has already received nearly three dozen inquiries from individuals and groups interested in taking possession of a historic Perry County bridge the state is seeking to give away.
The KY 80 bridge over the North Fork of the Kentucky River near Combs, built in 1929, is scheduled to be replaced beginning next year. Because the bridge is eligible for inclusion on the National Register of Historic Places, KYTC is looking to find a new owner for the vintage span. Interested parties have until Dec. 20 to communicate their interest in becoming the bridge’s new owners.
“The response to our marketing campaign has been tremendous,” said Jeff Allen, environmental coordinator for the Department of Highways District 10, which includes Perry County. “We have gotten inquiries from elsewhere in Kentucky and from several other states, as well as internationally. If those who have contacted us follow up on their interest, it’s possible we will successfully find a new home for this old bridge.”
“I’m amazed at the amount of interest this has generated,” said H.B. Elkins, public information officer for District 10. “We’ve gotten media coverage from all across Kentucky. The Reuters news agency picked up the story, and it’s even been on Sirius XM satellite radio, so it’s gone national and international. I’ve had calls from coast to coast and even a couple of queries from the United Kingdom about the ‘free bridge.’ Some people have mistakenly referred to it as being for sale, but we are giving it away, not selling it.”
KYTC and the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) have a program in place to allow government agencies, historic preservation organizations or individuals to re-erect the bridge if its original characteristics are retained at the new site. Historic organizations and individuals must be approved by the state historic preservation officer to be eligible for the program.
Under the program, KYTC and FHWA will pay the costs of match-marking parts of the bridge for proper reassembly, disassembling it, transporting it to the new site, and off-loading it. The recipient is responsible for all other costs, including site preparation, reassembly, replacement of parts suitable for the proposed use at the new location and construction of approaches. The recipient also becomes responsible for maintenance, liability and permits associated with the bridge and must post a bond to ensure compliance with the requirements.
The existing KY 80 bridge, a three-span steel Parker truss bridge built in 1929, is approximately 450 feet long and consists of three 150-foot spans. It must be demolished to make room for the new crossing.
"This program provides an opportunity for local governments or individuals to take part in historical preservation," Allen said. "All proposals will be seriously considered.”
Any eligible recipients can request additional information from Allen at the District 10 office located at 473 Highway 15 South, Jackson, by calling (606) 666-8841, or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. Letters of interest and written proposals for relocation of the bridge will be accepted until Dec. 20.