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MIDDLE FORK - After two years of fighting for a new bridge, Representative John Short (D-Hindman) announced this week that the KY Route 30 bridge will be replaced.

The bridge, built in 1932, is no stranger to accidents. With barely enough room for two small vehicles to pass, and only one truck or bus at a time, parts of the concrete are broken off all over where people have hit the sides, with several deaths recorded. Most notably, former Middle Fork Elementary Principal Paul Rowe was killed on the Route 30 bridge in 1990.

In July 2013 Representative Short brought in a state bridge inspector to examine the bridge. With strip jobs up past the bridge, coal trucks frequent the road, with over 15 passing in the roughly 20 minutes the bridge inspector, Steve Waddle, was there.

“We’ve had people killed out here and one of these days it’s going to be a busload of kids if we don’t do something about this now,” Short said.

Waddle said he would have to discuss the bridge with his office, but told the officials, “You’ve definitely got my attention.”

On Monday, August 10, Short announced the bridge has been bid out. Central Bridge Company, out of Lexington, received the bid for $2.2 million to build a new bridge beside of the old one. The old bridge will remain in use during construction, so traffic can continue as normal. 

“It will happen now,” Short said. “When I told him his wife and daughter would be no different than mine going over that bridge, I think he made up his mind. There is a two-by-four under there, acting as a ‘support.’ That is just unacceptable. I don’t feel safe driving over it, honestly, but the new bridge is finally coming.”

A groundbreaking for the construction will be held next month, with the date to be determined at a later time.