Daviess County Judge-Executive Al Mattingly on Friday declared a state of emergency as a result of severe damage done to the Kentucky 81 bridge over Panther Creek.

On Thursday, all of the trusses on the bridge were struck by an unknown vehicle rendering the bridge unusable, Mattingly said.

“The vehicle did severe damage to the superstructure of the bridge,” he said. “It is damaged from one end to the other. We had hoped to have the bridge open to automobile traffic using a stoplight system, but engineers deemed that it was too unsafe after inspecting the superstructure and finding that multiple beams were cracked under the deck.”

While the perpetrator’s identity is still unknown, the Kentucky State Police are in the process of an investigation, Mattingly said.

On Friday, engineers with the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet met with state contractors as well as Daviess County Engineer Mark Brasher to assess the damage further and discuss options.

The declaration of a state of emergency will allow Mattingly to waive procedures and formalities normally required by law pertaining to the performance of public work, entering into contracts, incurring obligations, employment of temporary and permanent workers, rental of equipment and appropriation and expenditure of public fund as well as give Mattingly the ability to request state and federal assistance to aid in the rehabilitation of the bridge.

In August 2019, the bridge was damaged and took upward of three months to fix at a cost of roughly $350,000. This time, the price tag could be even higher and repairs could take even longer, Mattingly said.

“The state is looking at every option,” he said. “It is critical for Daviess County and our sister counties because it is a highway of both ingress and egress. It is heavily used. The state is on it and will decide whether to replace the structure or repair it. Either way, it will be down for a while. For now the detour is up and that route will be closed indefinitely. There is not a good detour around that bridge as we all learned last time. It is not a good situation, but we will deal with it and get through it.”

Jacob Mulliken, 270-228-2837, jmulliken@messenger-inquirer.com

Jacob Mulliken, 270-228-2837, jmulliken@messenger-inquirer.com

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