The Broadway Street Bridge opened in 1910, but it wasn’t the first bridge to cross over the Kentucky River in that area and it might not be the last.
The Frankfort City Commission recently discussed a feasibility study by the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet and Palmer Engineering on the Broadway Bridge, which closed to all traffic in 1991.
The study, which took place in June, revealed that the bridge is in grim condition and that restoring the original structure may not be cost-effective.
During a Nov. 18 city commission work session, City Manager Keith Parker said the state has current ownership of the bridge and he suggested it stay that way. But the city commission needed to make a decision: Buy the bridge or let the state keep it. The state needed an answer from the city by Nov. 27. The commission has requested more time.
“The in-depth inspection determined that Broadway Bridge is in ‘imminent’ failure condition with a rating of 1 out of 9 according to the Federal Highway Administration’s rating guidelines,” the study says. “This condition rating does not necessarily indicate that collapse is likely under current conditions.”
To prevent the possibility of chunks of concrete falling from the bridge into the river, the state recommends installing debris netting as soon as possible.
On Nov. 18, Commissioner Eric Whisman said he believes the city shouldn’t be so quick to dispose of the bridge and needs to explore more options.
“This is an iconic element in our community,” he said.
Frankfort’s Downtown Master Plan envisions the Broadway Bridge being repaired and renovated for pedestrians and bicyclists. Whisman would like to see the city find a way to do that without completely disposing of the original structure.
Parker reiterated that buying the bridge would mean the city is responsible for the bridge and all the risk associated with it. If the bridge were to collapse or partially collapse, the city would be responsible for the damages and cleanup.
Commissioners Scott Tippett and Katrisha Waldridge said the city does not need to take on that risk.
The state provided several options and for repair, demolition and reconstruction. These figures do not include underwater repairs. That figure was unknown at the time of the study’s publication and is difficult to calculate, according to the study.
To rehab the bridge and do a historic pier repair with a concrete path would cost $3.9 million. A rehab with a concrete path and concrete pier repair is estimated to cost $2.41 million.
To rehab the bridge with a wooden path and a historic pier repair is estimated to cost $3.77 million. To rehab the bridge with a wooden path and concrete pier repair is estimated to cost $2.28 million.
To do an entire superstructural removal and build an entirely new pedestrian bridge would cost $600,000 and $1.65 million, respectively.
Parker told The State Journal on Tuesday that the city decided to ask the state to give the city more time to decide what it wants to do with the bridge, but in the meantime the state should go ahead and demolish the deck and secure the concrete sections.
An answer from the state was not available by presstime.