Controversial crossing

Harrod’s Creek’s one-lane bridge
to face wrecking ball for progress

Demolition to begin soon on ill-fated span

By Helen E. McKinney
Contributing Writer

(January 2008) – Since 1910, the one-lane bridge spanning Harrod’s Creek on River Road has supported daily traffic in and out of Prospect, Ky. Many in the community say that plans to widen it will destroy its historic character, while others debate its safety for motorists.

Harrod's Creek Bridge Location

Plans call for replacing the one-lane bridge and widening it to two lanes, said Chris Phillips, Engineering Supervisor for the Louisville Metro Public Works and Assets Department. This project has been budgeted for $2 million. “Design for the new bridge began in 2000,” said Phillips.
There is no definite timetable for this project. Construction may last one year and may begin in 2008, Phillips said. Officials believe that extending the bridge from 16 feet to 28 feet will create a smoother traffic flow.
“The new bridge and approaches will improve the safety for those traveling along River Road at this location,” said Phillips. “The project will reduce the potential for head-on collisions that are inherent to one-lane bridges with two way traffic.”
As of now, when motorists approach the bridge, they are forced to consider other drivers. They must slow down, one giving the other driver the right-of-way to avoid a collision.
To Rob Prince, proprietor of Prospect Jewelers, it’s “not a big issue that it’s a one-lane bridge. It slows traffic, but that’s not a bad thing.”
Prince said he would “hate to lose the quaintness of the drive through that area,” but he believes that “what’s going to happen is going to happen.” State and county officials know it needs to be replaced or repaired, and now it has reached a point of questionable safety, said Prince.
Construction may close the bridge for nine to 12 months. Prince’s concern lies more in the effect this will have on the traffic pattern through the area. Traffic will be deflected onto U.S. 42, and “my concern is that in whatever they choose to do, I hope they don’t work on the bridge and do the U.S. 42 modification at the same time.”
Prince referred to the installation of a turning lane on U.S. 42, a project that might also cause traffic delays.

Harrod's Creek Bridge

Photo by Don Ward

Construction of a two-lane span to
replace the current single-lane bridge
may begin in 2008, officials say.

According to Phillips, there is no single designated detour for drivers while construction is under way. Prince said he heard that 8,000 cars cross the bridge daily. These are 8,000 cars that would have to be rerouted onto U.S. 42.
“I don’t know if the road can bear that much traffic,” said Prince. “It will create some interesting situations.”
The Chick Inn is located on River Road, and owners Don and Sharon Scheer say that closing the road during construction will hurt businesses in the area. Sharon Scheer said, “It’s a historic bridge. I wish it would stay that way.”
She is one of many in the community who believes conversion of the one-lane bridge to a two-lane bridge will change the character of the bridge. “It will change the look of the area, and a one-lane bridge works now. People stop. You don’t have to wait to cross the bridge.”
Phillips said that maintaining the bridge’s style was an important consideration in planning the replacement bridge. “We are actually using a construction technique that will allow us to save the existing arches, and we are incorporating them into the new bridge.” He is referring to the concrete arches that form the bridge’s base. River Road was added to the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet’s Scenic Highway and Byway Program in 1994.
“Drivers will be able to enjoy the historic character of the bridge with the assurance that it will be safe for travel for years to come,” said Phillips. He said the bridge has not been deemed unsafe at this point, “but considering the structure’s age, it’s important that we make repairs now before the bridge’s safety is compromised in any way.”
Officials considered other alternatives, such as replacing the bridge on either side of the existing bridge and installing a stoplight, said Phillips.
Public meetings were held early on in the project, he said. From these meetings, officials learned that maintaining the character of the bridge was very important to citizens.
“We used the information from those public meetings to guide our design plans,” Phillips said.

Back to January 2008 Articles.



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