KENTUCKY (WOWK) – The Kentucky Transportation Cabinet is working to construct permanent replacements for the state and county bridges that were damaged by the historic flooding that devastated parts of Eastern Kentucky in late July.

According to Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear, more than 170 bridges in the flood-hit areas were damaged and need repaired or replaced. The governor says crews will begin with publicly owned crossings and crossings where access for drivers has been significantly limited or eliminated.

“Our teams have moved with unprecedented speed to restore access where these bridges were the only way many of our fellow Kentuckians were able to reach their homes,” said Gov. Beshear. “We are utilizing all the resources at our disposal to restore access. This is a great example of how Team Kentucky is working day and night, not just to clean up, but also to rebuild what was lost. The residents need this critical access so they can return to their homes, to their lives and to a sense of normalcy as we rebuild damaged infrastructure throughout Eastern Kentucky.”

According to Beshear, the KYTC and partners have created temporary crossings at 19 locations to restore access to homes that were cut off by damaged and destroyed bridges. The KYTC says they are working on installing seven more temporary locations until the permanent structures can be repaired or built.

“KYTC has accessed every tool available to quickly advance these projects,” said State Highway Engineer James Ballinger. “We are utilizing our state forces and existing contracts with consultants for site survey, design and construction management as well as existing and emergency contracts with contractors for construction and demolition. Each of these partners is moving deliberately and urgently, and our teams won’t quit until the job is done.”

Two that are currently under construction are the Dan Lane bridge over Big Willard Creek and the Macintosh Mt. Bridge over Little Willard Creek. The governor says Lexington-based contractor Jave LLC began working on these two projects this week and is expected to finish both within 60 days. Central Bridge Co and Bizzack Construction have also already began expediting work on a Knott County bridge that had already been slated to be replaced as part of a design-build project, according to the governor’s office.

These two bridges are part of the 33 structures the state has identified in Perry, Knott, Pike, Letcher and Floyd counties for the most rapid replacements. Beshear says all 33 are expected to be ready for construction by the end of the month and should be finished by the end of the current construction season.