KINGSPORT - As if traffic weren't bad enough.
Beginning this week the Tennessee Department of Transportation plans to begin work on the remediation of the Highway 11-W bridge. The bridge is over the north fork of the Holston River and is located just past the Wal-Mart Supercenter on West Stone Drive.
Mike Thompson, traffic engineer for Kingsport, said beginning either Monday or Tuesday TDOT plans to close both inside lanes of the bridge for one day in order to build a diversion lane approaching the bridge.
Thompson said work would then cease on the bridge until after the Food City 500 race at Bristol Motor Speedway on March 25.
Public Works Director Ryan McReynolds said the diversion lane would shift traffic to one side of the bridge while crews worked on performing full depth deck improvements to the bridge.
"You'll have one eastbound and one westbound lane on one side of the bridge. To do that you've got to cross the median, so they're going to build a temporary diversion lane to get traffic going from one direction to the other direction," McReynolds said. "Once traffic is off one half of the bridge, then TDOT will begin the repairs of the bridge. Then they'll switch to the other side."
Thompson said the work is some "pretty serious remediation" on the whole bridge deck - the part of the bridge that the asphalt road lies on. Work is also being done on the underside of the bridge, but not the superstructure itself, McReynolds said.
"TDOT identified the need, did the design and implemented the construction," McReynolds said. "The decking is the not the superstructure, but the part of bridge the asphalt road lays on. They'll go in and do repairs to that, and it could vary from a few inches to maybe some improvements that are a foot or so deep."
McReynolds said the project is slated to be finished by July, and that traffic delays would be likely during the commuting periods of the day - 8 a.m. to 9 a.m. and around 5 p.m.
"There's a tremendous amount of residential traffic from Hawkins County. The morning commute and the evening commute back home - there would be a substantial impact," he said. "During the rest of the day, it should flow pretty good."
McReynolds said there is no construction slated for Netherland Inn Road during the same time period as the Highway 11-W bridge project.