COW CREEK — Residents who frequently use Route 1428, between Prestonsburg and Allen, could face detours of 20 minutes or more over the next few months, as a bridge replacement project gets underway this month.
The highway will be impassable at the site of the replacement, as contractor Bush and Burchett must first completely remove the old bridge, located near the Route 194 intersection, before beginning construction of the new bridge.
The project will begin April 15, which could cause some headaches during the last month of school this year and perhaps the first few weeks of the upcoming school year, since the bridge is located about one mile north of Allen Elementary. The road will remain closed for four months, meaning those on one side of the bridge will need to detour via U.S. 23 and Lancer-Watergap Road to reach the other side.
“We can’t avoid working at the end of this school year and the beginning of the next one,” said Matt Moore, section engineer for Highway District 12. “The build will take longer than six to eight weeks. But the Transportation Cabinet is paying for an accelerated construction schedule and a daily penalty will be assessed if the contractor is not finished on time.”
Supt. Henry Webb said last Thursday it is unfortunate that the project will cause delays for students going to and from school, particularly as the testing window opens May 1. However, he acknowledged that it cannot be avoided.
“It is what it is, and we’ll just have to work with it,” Webb said. “Obviously, the bridge needs to be replaced, and we support that.”
Webb said the district plans to add 15-to-20 minutes to affected bus runs, during the construction project. Construction is expected to last from April 15 to Aug. 15. The current school will end May 16 for all schools except Prestonsburg High School, Allen Central Middle School and Allen Central High School, which will end May 17, assuming no more days are canceled due to weather. The next school year will begin Aug. 6.
“The construction is expected to last until August and may effect bus runs at the beginning of next school year as well,” Webb said. “But again, the most important thing is that our kids are safe and getting a new bridge that’s expected to be much safer than the current one is what’s best for all.”
The new bridge is expected to be safer, compared to the current one. The new bridge will be a single concrete span with 11-foot lanes and 3-foot shoulders. The current bridge does not have shoulders.
The project will necessitate that the road be closed around the clock.
“This is a 24/7 closure,” Moore said. “The first thing Bush and Burchett will do is tear out the old bridge. Until the new structure is completed, there will be no crossing at all, so this isn’t like some projects where we can close the road during the work day and open it at night.
“We apologize for this temporary inconvenience, but ask you to make sure your friends and neighbors, and any family members who no longer live in the area but who might come to visit, are made aware of the detour.”