KINGSPORT — Work to replace the Rotherwood Bridge is progressing on schedule with crews reaching a milestone in the construction of the new, adjacent bridge, city officials said this week.
Blalock Construction has been working since January on replacing the Rotherwood Bridge — located on Netherland Inn Road — with a new, concrete girder-style bridge and realigning the road on both sides of the river to tie in with the new bridge.
The new bridge is scheduled to be completed by December 2009.
“It’s progressing on schedule, maybe even a little ahead of schedule. We’re real happy with Blalock’s progress,” said Ryan McReynolds, public works director for the city. “They’ve built all of the substructure, the piers, the foundation in the river and on both sides of the river.
“They’ve done the bulk of the mass grading, and they’re going to start working on the superstructure and various other components of the bridge next.”
Gary Dault, civil engineer for the city of Kingsport, said within the next month crews will begin working on the superstructure of the bridge — the beams that stretch across the bridge, underneath the roadway.
“Things are going pretty smooth so far. They’re on schedule for the finish date,” Dault said. “We haven’t heard of any delays. They’ve done a great job.”
But there is still quite a bit of work to complete, Dault said, including the superstructure work, tying in the road at both ends, and extending Big Elm Road to meet the new Netherland Inn Road. Dault said there would be temporary road closures from time to time over the next 17 months, such as when the concrete beams are brought in.
Until crews start on changing the roads over, Dault said there would be no major delays.
The Rotherwood Bridge has been slated for replacement for nearly six years, ever since the Tennessee Department of Transportation discovered structural problems with the bridge during an annual inspection in early 2002. TDOT ordered the bridge closed, and in response the city paid $500,000 to temporarily fix the bridge so it could be used until a new bridge is built.
TDOT plans for the new bridge to be an aesthetic match to the area, and it will be located to the left of the existing bridge if you’re coming from Kingsport. It will be two lanes with much wider shoulders than the old Rotherwood Bridge.
Once the project is complete, the old Rotherwood Bridge will remain intact and be used as a pedestrian bridge.
TDOT is overseeing the project and paying the bulk of the construction cost — $3.6 million. Kingsport’s portion is $747,000.
The Rotherwood Bridge on Netherland Inn Road crosses the North Fork of the Holston River and is one of only two primary routes across the river into Kingsport from Hawkins County. The Rotherwood Bridge opened in 1937, replacing another bridge that collapsed after a heavy truck crossed it.