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Finally... viaduct reopens today

August 29, 2003|LIZ MAPLES

Irene Estes was the first official driver across the Danville viaduct today. The bridge over the railroad closed June 2 for extensive repairs and reopened to traffic today.

Estes was there 54 years ago when the viaduct was first dedicated. It was a warm September day and Estes remembers that she wore a black two-piece dress. Her husband, Ed Estes, was Boyle County resident engineer and had worked on the project since it began in 1947.

"He was particularly proud of the viaduct," she said. "We always called it his viaduct."

Recently Irene Estes was at lunch when she ran into some folks from the Kentucky Department of Transportation that she knew from Ed Estes' days there. She mentioned that she would like to be the first one to drive across.

They took her up on it.

The official dedication won't be until Tuesday, but this weekend the viaduct will be open to traffic.

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The viaduct took $551,127 to build and $1.8 million to restore. The original church window openings and arches have been preserved.

Irene Estes said that she knew her husband would be glad that they kept the architectural features, and that he would be glad the bridge will be safer.

The decks were replaced, the highway from Maple Avenue to 100 feet past the bridge was resurfaced, and the sidewalks were replaced.

Irene Estes said that when she goes off the bridge and around the curve, the drive is so smooth she feels like her car would go without steering. When she talks about it, one can tell that she is proud of her husband's work.

"He was a really amazing person," she said.

When first built, the viaduct was 756 feet long and had a 28-foot roadway with 5-foot sidewalks on each side. The substructure was reinforced concrete and had nine 45-foot concrete spans, one 112-foot steel span, one 156-foot steel span and one 66-foot steel span.

Ed Estes was a photography enthusiast. Irene Estes said that everyday he had his lunch in one hand and a camera bag in the other. One of his favorite pictures of the viaduct shows a worker with a cone ready to catch a hot rivet that Ed Estes snapped while the rivet was suspended in the air.

Staff writer Brenda Edwards contributed to this story.



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