On Friday at Elliott County High School, Gov. Andy Beshear presented a $989,445.60 ceremonial check for a state project to restore and reopen the historic Old Laurel Gorge Bridge on Little Sandy River.
The steel truss bridge, opened in the 1930s, has been a gateway to the scenic Laurel Gorge for generations of fishermen, kayakers and other recreation lovers.
“By investing in our infrastructure, we are ensuring it will stand the test of time and be here not just for us, but for our children and grandchildren,” said Gov. Beshear. “This project will protect families, reduce traffic and improve the lives of all Kentuckians in the region who rely on the bridge and need it to reopen after all necessary safety upgrades have been made.”
He also presented a $500,000 check to Elliott County for paving and upgrades on State Route 755, known locally as South Ruin Road.
The 6.5-mile-long road serves as a popular connector between Sandy Hook and Kentucky Route 173 for people commuting to places like Morehead State University and the St. Claire Medical Center in Morehead.
Kentucky Transportation Cabinet (KYTC) plans to contract the work to Mountain Enterprises, and work should begin within weeks. The cabinet is using discretionary funding for the project.
“Route 755 is in bad condition due to this year’s ice storms and flooding and this work will be critical to keeping our people in the surrounding region safe,” said Gov. Beshear. “It will also speed up drive times and ensure the road is more prepared for severe weather in the future.”
“Elliott County is my home and where my family still lives. The investment in these two construction projects is critical for the people of Elliott County,” said Rocky Adkins, senior advisor to Gov. Beshear. “I want to thank Gov. Beshear for his commitment to the people of Eastern Kentucky and for approving these projects for the safety and convenience of our community.”
Gov. Beshear presented both checks as he joined AppHarvest for the company’s launch of its newest container farm educational program.
“AppHarvest is helping to meet the increasing food supply demands and creating good jobs and new investments right here in Eastern Kentucky,” said Gov. Beshear. “Today we see more of that Team Kentucky spirit with Jonathan Webb, Superintendent Stephens and Principal Holbrook working together to create innovative educational opportunities for our students. To build that better Kentucky that we all want, this is exactly what we need – everyone working together.”
The Governor said restorations will include adding splice/reinforcement plates, replacing rivets and other repairs to strengthen steel beams. Guardrail and bridge joint improvements are also planned. When repairs are complete, a new coat of paint will preserve the bridge’s integrity.
The structurally deficient bridge was closed to all traffic in recent years due to its condition, and prior to closure was only rated to carry traffic up to three tons.
The restoration project, by Intech Contracting LLC, will allow the bridge to be reopened at an increased weight limit of 15 tons to serve local residents and schools buses, as well as outdoor enthusiasts visiting cliff-lined Laurel Gorge.
The bridge serves another critical function: It carries utility lines across the Little Sandy, connecting sewage treatment and other services in Sandy Hook to rural Elliott County and the nearby Little Sandy Correctional Complex.
The project is made possible with federal and state funding through KYTC’s Bridging Kentucky program, which was launched to repair or replace hundreds of smaller bridges across the commonwealth. Work on the project began in March, and it may be finished by late summer or early fall.
(provided by the Office of Gov. Andy Beshear)