BY O.J. EARLY
Travelers hoping to cross West Allens Bridge in southern Greene County are out of luck for about the next four weeks.
Construction crews are currently working to build approaches that tie into a new bridge that spans the Nolichuckey River, Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT) spokesman Mark Nagi said.
When work related to the approaches is complete, including the placement of guardrails, vehicle traffic will be moved from the existing bridge to the new one, Nagi said. That should happen in about four weeks, he added.
For now, motorists will have to follow alternate routes based on their direction of travel, Nagi said.
After traffic is shifted to the new bridge, the old bridge will be removed, bringing to a close a more-than-two-year project.
The entire project, including the removal of the existing bridge, should be complete by October 2013, he said.
Construction has been ongoing since early 2011 on a new, wider, safer bridge at the location. The project costs a little more than $3 million.
State engineers for more than a decade have deemed the existing bridge, built in 1976, "structurally deficient" but not dangerous. Federal funding to replace the bridge had been sought since 1999.
The new bridge is very close to, and downstream from, the existing bridge. The contractor for the project is Charles Blalock & Sons, Inc., of Sevierville.