Completion Date Is Now Estimated At Late Oct. 2013
BY O.J. EARLY
Construction continues ahead of schedule on a new bridge that will serve travelers on West Allens Bridge Road in southern Greene County.
The project was approximately 79 percent complete as of Dec. 12, when the last on-site update was given, according to Mark Nagi, spokesman with the Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT).
Construction has been ongoing since early 2011 on a new, wider, safer bridge at the location. The new bridge should be complete by late October 2013, Nagi said.
The project costs a little more than $3 million, slightly higher than the original projected cost of $2.9 million.
According to Nagi, the reason for the increase in cost came from changes that had to be made to the foundation of the new bridge, including the adding of a pipe.
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 bridge.
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 American Indian 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.