|Dive team inspects piers
|Posted: Wednesday, February 1, 2012 6:20 pm
| A dive team in western Kentucky on Tuesday was inspecting the piers of a Tennessee River bridge that partially collapsed after it was struck last week by a massive cargo vessel.
The team enlisted by the state Transportation Cabinet is looking for any movement around three piers of the US 68/Kentucky 80 bridge over the Tennessee River. The bridge was struck by the Delta Mariner, a cargo ship that was carrying space rocket parts to Cape Canaveral, Fla.
A statement from the Transportation Cabinet said divers are looking at the river bottom for any movement in the mud around the piers.
“Assessing the condition of the piers will help us determine what we can do to restore traffic on US 68 and Kentucky 80,” Transportation Secretary Mike Hancock said in the statement. The highway has been closed since the boat smashed into the 80-year-old steel bridge Thursday night, tearing off a 322-foot section. The five-story high ship was too tall to pass under the span.
The Delta Mariner was carrying an Atlas rocket booster and other components for the U.S. Air Force’s AEHF-2 mission that is scheduled to launch in April, according to a statement from United Launch Alliance, which builds the rocket parts. The company said the rocket parts were not damaged and there was no change in the scheduled launch date.
A Murray company is helping with salvage operations. Craig Fortenbery, president of Mainstream Commercial Divers, told the Murray Ledger & Times that the company has provided sonar surveys to help with the salvage plan for the bridge and to develop a plan to get the pieces of the span off the boat (http://bit.ly/wLMPdU).
He said further involvement from the company would depend on how the vessel’s owner, Foss Maritime, moves forward with its salvage plan.
A statement from Seattle-based Foss Maritime said once a salvage plan is approved, the company will begin removing the parts of the bridge that are sitting on the boat. Once that’s finished, the ship will be moved to another location for repairs.
The Transportation Cabinet is in the process of replacing the bridge, which is between Marshall County and the Land Between the Lakes National Recreation Area. Gov. Steve Beshear’s recommended highway plan includes $165 million in construction funding for a new bridge.
The state has detoured traffic to Interstate 24, and motorists also can get around Land Between the Lakes via U.S. 62 on the northern end and KY 121, which turns into Tennessee 119, on the south.
Information from: Murray Ledger & Times, http://www.murrayledger.com
Published in The Messenger 2.1.12