KINGSPORT — Local contractors have erected temporary traffic signals at both ends of the Orebank Road bridge in preparation for an extensive, eight-month reconstruction project.
The city of Kingsport announced the project on Thursday, saying it is expected to begin sometime next week. The Tennessee Department of Transportation is handling the project but did not return phone calls on Thursday inquiring when the project would begin.
The bridge is located on Orebank Road and stretches across John B. Dennis Highway.
Mike Thompson, traffic engineer for the city, said the project will entail the full deck replacement of the bridge, removing all of the concrete from the steel beams, replacing one of the beams, and rebuilding the entire deck.
“They’re taking every bit of concrete you see down and replacing it. The whole deck you drive on will be replaced,” Thompson said.
According to TDOT, the repair work will limit the width of vehicles crossing the bridge and will require intermittent lane closures in both directions on John B. Dennis as well. Traffic across the Orebank Road bridge will be reduced to one lane beginning early next week, and motorists on both Orebank and John B. Dennis are urged to use extreme caution.
The temporary signals are being installed on both sides of the bridge to help keep traffic flowing, Thompson said.
“They’ll do a half at a time so they can keep one lane of traffic going across,” Thompson said.
The repair work was not due to a structural problem with the bridge.
“Several years ago apparently an 18-wheeler carrying a piece of construction equipment caught one of the first beams going northbound on John B., going under the bridge,” Thompson said.
TDOT estimates the project to cost $700,000, and the contractors have until Sept. 30 to complete the work. According to the most recent traffic count, 3,728 vehicles travel over the bridge every day.