Inspection starts on Ky. bridge hit by cargo ship

Kentucky Transportation Cabinet spokesman Chuck Wolfe says inspectors began the in-depth review of the Eggner Ferry Bridge at U.S. Highway 68 and Kentucky Highway 80 at daylight Friday.

The Delta Mariner struck the main span Thursday evening around 8 p.m.. Twenty people were on board the boat and four vehicles were on the bridge at the time of the accident. No injuries were reported.

A 20 foot span of the bridge is now in the Kentucky River. One of those spans is actually wrapped around the boat in the water below.

The boat has passed under the bridge several times. Officials say recent heavy rains raised the rivers levels making the ship too tall to safely pass Thursday night. Investigators believe other factors could play a role, they don't believe recent rains are the only cause of the crash.

Officials say the bridge is closed to traffic, causing vehicles needing to cross the Kentucky Lake reservoir and the Tennessee River to be detoured for dozens of miles. The Coast Guard also blocked access to boat traffic at the bridge site. It's estimated close to three thousand commuters use the bridge each day, including many Murray State students.

The Eggner Ferry bridge and another bridge that crosses nearby Lake Barkley are both set to be replaced by four lane bridges. No word on how those projects will be impacted.

The safety of the people on the bridge and on the ship were at the forefront of Kentucky leaders' minds.

"We're very fortunate that the vehicles that were on the bridge were able to see what was happening and stop in time or else we could have had not only a lot of injuries but a lot of fatalities," said Kentucky State Police Lt. Brent White.

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