Construction Began In Early 2011 On $2.9M Project At W. Allens Bridge Rd.
BY O.J. EARLY
Construction is "slightly ahead of schedule" on a new bridge spanning the Nolichucky River on West Allens Bridge Road.
The $2.9-million project was approximately 55 percent complete as of Aug. 14, when the last on-site update was given, according to Mark Nagi, community relations officer with the Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT).
The project is scheduled to be finished by late October 2013, Nagi said.
Construction has been ongoing since early 2011 on a new, wider, safer bridge at the location.
Work on the bridge was halted in 2009 after archaeologists located an ancient Woodland Indian burial site in the immediate vicinity of the existing bridge and the planned replacement.
Archaeologists believe that the land was once the site of a Woodland Indian village that was used over a long period of time.
The Birdwell family, which has long owned and operated a large farm on the west side of the river on both sides of Allens Bridge Road, has found numerous artifacts over the years, and an archaeological team from the University of Tennessee also found many artifacts, including several graves.
In order to continue construction, TDOT obtained a memorandum of agreement from four Native American tribes and met the tribes' conditions for completion.
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.
As the final step in the safety project, the existing bridge will be removed once the new bridge is complete, Nagi said.
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.