Need a bridge? The state could have one for you

dmoore@herald-leader.comJune 15, 2012 

If you have good use — and the money to maintain it — state officials are willing to haul a piece of Breathitt County history to your doorstep, free of charge.

The state is appealing to the public to save the 77-year-old Old Buck Bridge, eligible for the National Register of Historic Places, from demolition. The Federal Highway Administration, Kentucky Transportation Cabinet and State Historic Preservation Office put it up for grabs Monday using a program that allows organizations or individuals to use the bridge at a new site if they keep its original characteristics.

"It draws a lot of interest," said Jeff Allen, environmental coordinator for the Department of Highways District 10 in Jackson. "There are very few of these bridges left, and it's a way to try and preserve some of them."

The state will disassemble and deliver the bridge's parts; the new owner would be responsible for its reconstruction and future maintenance. Those costs are typically a deterrent for most people, Allen said.

"Usually people realize there is quite a bit of cost involved," Allen said. "Most people really want to use it to get to their farm — across a stream or something — and they start realizing they can't afford it."

In some cases, costs are equally as prohibitive for the state.

The bridge will be relocated only if the cost of transporting the old bridge parts to the new owner doesn't exceed the cost of its demolition, district spokesman H.B. Elkins said.

Therefore, the state is seeking local response, Elkins said, since the cost of transportation to distant locations — the program accepted applications last fall from as far away as Great Britain — likely exceeds demolition.

"We realize that it may be a long shot that anyone might actually take this," Elkins said, but added the program has had several successful relocations in Western Kentucky.

The metal truss-style bridge carries Ky. 30 across the Kentucky River near Jackson. Elkins said it's "functionally obsolete," which means it doesn't meet modern width standards of 24 feet. Construction on the new span is scheduled to begin in 2014.

The Old Buck is the fourth bridge offered for relocation in District 10 in the past year. Two bridges in Perry County and one in Breathitt have been advertised. Those bridges were still available as of Friday.

Allen and a state historian will review applications for ownership after the Aug. 20 deadline and make visits to the proposed relocation sites.

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