Wednesday, January 04, 2017 - Updated: 1:03 AM
AURORA -- Hikers and bikers have something new to which they may look forward as they approach the Land Between the Lakes National Recreation Area. The new multi-use path that runs along the south side of the new Eggners Ferry Bridge is complete and open to the public.
Kentucky Transportation Cabinet officials hosted a soft opening Thursday, which brought about 20 participants to walk from Kenlake State Resort Park to the Fenton Access area in LBL. Calloway County Judge-Executive Larry Elkins, an avid walker, was among those to brave the cold and 15 mph winds Thursday and make the trek across the bridge. Elkins said he felt it was a welcome addition to the area for both visitors and locals.
"You get people like me, we get tired of walking in the same place every day, and I'll be here on occasion to walk across the bridge," Elkins said. "Ã¢ Â¦ It'll just be a different scenery for me on my every day walks. Ã¢ Â¦ It's hard to gauge how much tourism value it will actually have, but there will no doubt that there will be people like me who will, just for the sake of being able to say you walked across the Eggners Ferry Bridge. And it's a nice place, a safe place to walk."
LBL Public Affairs Specialist Janice Wilson and members of her department joined in Thursday's walk to commemorate the path opening, as well. Wilson said she felt the path would provide a safer alternative for bikers and hikers to travel and connect with the scenic byway. In all, she felt the path would prove itself a valuable asset.
"The bridge was old, and it was very unsafe," Wilson said. "We occasionally even had horseback riders who were traveling cross country or through multiple states, (and) we would try to help them across. Sometimes they would be at Wranglers (Campground), and they knew they were coming this direction, and we would trailer their horses for them because it was so unsafe for them to come across. Now, potentially -- and that's very rare -- but now if we have that issue they have a safer lane to be able to travel in, with the hikers and the bikers."
The multi-use path construction was delayed prior to Thursday's event pending the arrival of handrail required along an embankment next to the paved path, according to KYTC.
The path interconnects with the LBL trail system and will eventually connect with a path across the new Lake Barkley Bridge in Canton upon its completion.
KYTC officials have said they plan to host a joint grand opening with regional and state tourism organizations in the spring.