The Harlan Fiscal Court discussed a situation concerning the safety of a much-used bridge on U.S. 119 in Cumberland during a special-called meeting on Monday.
Harlan County Judge-Executive Dan Mosley brought the subject up during a discussion on roads and bridges.
Mosley said the county had been notified the weight limit of the bridge had been lowered to 3 tons.
“We just woke up one morning and the state was up there,” explained magistrate David Kennedy. “That’s U.S. 119 just above Hardee’s, it’s the overpass there — these bridge inspectors went in there and the shock absorbers are all deteriorated underneath that bridge — then they threw up a three ton weight limit on it, and it’s driving people crazy.”
Kennedy explained that with the lowered weight limit, no heavy vehicles such as a coal truck or other commercial vehicles can cross the bridge.
“Food City trucks can’t get through up there,” Kennedy explained. “It’s a nightmare…there’s no information on when they’re even going to fix that bridge.”
Mosley stated there is no signage advising of the lowered weight limit until you reach the bridge itself.
“It’s not posted until you get to the bridge,” Mosley said. “That is very startling.”
Mosley suggested contacting the state and requesting the bridge be repaired as quickly as possible.
“I think we need to draft a letter today to go out to…our state representatives and state senator regarding that, and urge them to proceed with some urgency,” Mosley said. “Not only are there people crossing the bridge, there are people going under the bridge on KY 160.”
According to a press release from the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet, The posted limit has the effect of restricting all commercial vehicle traffic from the bridge, which is located at mile point 34.8 on U.S. 119 in Cumberland.
The release states recent inspections revealed levels of deterioration of the bridge beam bearings that led engineers to post the weight reduction. The posting is necessary to maintain the bridge’s integrity until repairs can be made. The Kentucky Transportation Cabinet asks motorists to be aware of the work zone, expected long delays, use the signed detour for alternate routes, and to utilize safe driving habits when traveling through the area.
“We’re strongly discouraging any commercial vehicles from going across due to the weight limit,” Mosley said following the meeting. “People in that area should be conscious of that, and people traveling KY 160 also should be cautious as well, because there are going to be a lot more commercial vehicles on KY 160 until the state corrects the problem with the bridge.”
After the meeting, Kennedy said the lowered weight limit came as a surprise.
“I just hope they get it up and running as soon as possible because it’s creating hardship for all delivery trucks going through the town of Cumberland,” Kennedy said. “I hope they can get right on it and get it opened back up.”
In other court activity:
• A resolution accepting a memorandum of agreement between the Kentucky Infrastructure Authority and the fiscal court in the amount of $107,958 for a coal severance allocation was approved;
• A memorandum of agreement between the court and the Department for Local Government for a KARD grant in the amount of $125,000 was approved;
• A resolution to partner in a federal Appalachian Regional Commission/EDA Power Plus proposal for broadband service was approved;
• The second reading of the 2016/2017 budget was performed and accepted.
Reach Joe P. Asher at 606-909-4132 or on Twitter @joe_hde