Start date nears on Middlesboro bridge project

MIDDLESBORO, Ky. (WYMT) - Bell County officials say it is a project long overdue.

Construction on a new bridge in the Ambleside community is set to begin next week.

Bell County Judge Executive Albey Brock says during heavy rains, the existing twin drain tiles act as a choke point for sand and debris.

"This is our biggest residential section, so you know we have concern about first responders being able to get here, ambulances fire trucks," he said.

At a public meeting Monday, folks who live in Ambleside expressed excitement for the bridge project, including Bruce Walzer, who has lived there 26 years.

"Every time we saw the little markers go down we thought well that's good it's going to happen, but obviously there were a few problems," Walzer said.

The Judge-Executive says the new bridge could have been completed two years ago if it weren't for the blacksided dace, a minnow that lives in the stream.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has identified it as a threatened species.

"We've had to spend close to $100,000 in additional cost to build a temporary bridge here, to protect that blacksided dace," Brock said.

Despite delays, officials say the project is nearing the final phase, and soon folks in Ambleside will hear the sound of construction in their quiet community.

"Any time you've got construction going on in your neighborhood it's an inconvenience, but it'll be an inconvenience that'll be well worth it when we're finished," Brock said.

Officials say construction on the $260,000 bridge project will begin July 7th.

Workers will install a temporary span while the new bridge is being built.

The entire project should be complete in 60 days.

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