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Kentucky Governor, Transportation Secretary Gray, Local Officials Cut Ribbon on New U.S. 60 Cumberland River Bridge in Smithland

SMITHLAND, KY — Gov. Andy Beshear was recently joined by Kentucky Transportation Cabinet Secretary Jim Gray and state and local officials to cut the ribbon ceremonially opening the new U.S. 60 Cumberland River Bridge in Smithland before a crowd of community members. The 1,912-foot-long blue truss bridge is now open to traffic.

“Kentuckians are going to love their new bridge, which will make their commutes safer,” Beshear said. “This standout bridge assembled at the Paducah Riverport and transported to Smithland showcases the ingenuity used to usher in a much-needed structure that will be treasured for generations to come.”

Jim Smith Contracting Co., of Grand Rivers, was awarded the $63.6 million contract to replace a neighboring aging bridge, which opened to traffic in 1931. The former bridge, known locally as the Lucy Jefferson Lewis Memorial Bridge, will be demolished in August and crews will complete final roadway resurfacing and finishing work by December 2023.

“Despite numerous weather events during construction, work crews kept this project on schedule and on budget so it could open to the community as soon as possible,” Gray said. “Drivers will enjoy wider driving lanes, new emergency shoulders, and ample space for farm equipment to comfortably cross the river without halting traffic.”

Jim Smith Contracting partnered with American Bridge Co. to assemble and paint the bridge’s 700-foot steel truss at the Paducah Riverport. The truss then floated by barge 14 miles upstream on the Ohio River to the bridge construction site for crews to work on the bridge deck.

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The new bridge is 40 feet wide, with two 12-foot driving lanes and 8-foot shoulders. It also spans the river without piers in the water, eliminating an obstruction for river traffic.

The bridge will provide a significant cross-country link for U.S. Highway 60 through Western Kentucky and a critical connection for local Livingston County traffic. The Cumberland River splits the county, and the bridge is the only direct link for local commuters, commerce, school buses, and emergency responders.

“The U.S. 60 Cumberland River Bridge is the only thing we have to make our county one,” said Kentucky Emergency Management Area 1 Manager and former Livingston County Emergency Management Director Daniel Newcomb. “Without this connection, it would be hard for Livingston County government to function. I don’t know a lot of other counties that are divided by a major river. This bridge provides a critical transportation link for our schools, our fire departments, the ambulance service, and law enforcement. The opening of this new bridge makes this connection more reliable and resilient.”

New Bridge Honors Former Smithland Businessman
During the event, Beshear and others unveiled new highway signage that designates the new bridge as the Jim R. Smith Memorial Bridge. The 2022 General Assembly approved the naming as a tribute to the Smithland native and founder of the company that built the bridge.

“Jim R. Smith saw such great potential in Kentucky, especially Western Kentucky, and his diligence and hard work to achieve it was apparent. As a small business owner and dedicated member of our community, he worked tirelessly building roads across our commonwealth,” Rep. Randy Bridges said. “Jim was a family friend for many years. He left a great heritage for his family, community, and all of Western Kentucky. Naming the bridge in honor of him is a small gesture of appreciation and a highly visible reminder of his incredible legacy.”

“On behalf of the Smith family and Jim Smith Contracting, I would like to thank the General Assembly and Gov. Andy Beshear for honoring my father, Jim R. Smith, with this monumental tribute,” said Rex Smith, Jim Smith Contracting President. “He would be so humbled to know that this incredible piece of economic infrastructure bears his name in the place he loved the most, Smithland, Kentucky."

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