The Longs Bend Road Bridge will be closed Thursday morning. Photo by Jeff Bobo.
UPDATE: 2:35 p.m.
Hawkins County Highway Superintendent Lowell Bean said Wednesday that barricade equipment has now been received and the Longs Bend Road bridge will be closed beginning Thursday.
Bean says repairs are hoped to be completed within two weeks, allowing the bridge to be reopened.
Motorists driving to work int he morning from the south side of the river will be able to cross the bridge on their way to work Thursday morning, but will have to use either the Burem road bridge or Goshen Valley Road bridge to get home int he evening..
SURGOINSVILLE — Barricade equipment specified by the Tennessee Department of Transportation for bridge closures hadn’t arrived in Hawkins County as of Tuesday, giving the Longs Bend Road bridge in Surgoinsville a temporary reprieve from closure.
The Tennessee Department of Transportation has ordered the bridge closed, but that has local officials concerned because of the hardship it will create for Surgoinsville and county residents who live on the more rural south side of the bridge.
The new bridge is under construction beside the old bridge, but it isn’t scheduled for completion until May.
Hawkins County highway superintendent Lowell Bean told the Times-News Tuesday he’s hoping that repairs can be made to the bridge quickly so the bridge doesn’t have to be closed at all.
T-DOT sent Bean an email on July 3 stating the old Longs Bend Road bridge over the Holston River in Surgoinsville must be closed due to deterioration which has created unsafe conditions. The deadline to close the bridge was Wednesday, July 17,, but Bean said he’s not going to be able to make that deadline.
“We’ve ordered the T-DOT spec barricades, and when they arrive we’re going to shut the bridge down, but they haven’t arrived yet,” Bean said. “What I did do was lower the weight limit to five tons. We were trying to see if the state will give us an extension on it, and they won’t give an extension.”
Bean noted, however, that if the bridge is repaired before the barricades arrive, the bridge won’t have to be closed.
T-DOT outlined several repairs that must be made, and Bean has already begun the emergency bid process which could have a construction contract in place within a week.
Bean estimates that it will take about another week for the repairs to be made.
“We’ve got three contractors lined up, and the engineer has already met with them and explained what we want done,” Bean said. “Then we’ll have all three bid on it.”
The required repairs as stated in the T-DOT email to Bean include:
• Repair or replace the sections of broken corrugated metal deck in spans 3, 4, and 5.
• Repair or replace steel stringers B, C, D, and E in approach span 2 and B through J in main span 3, as well as floorbeam #1 in span 3.
• Repair areas of broken welds as necessary.
• Repair the bearing area of pier 1.
The T-DOT email also states, “After all items of the above recommendations have been completed, the bridge may be re-opened to traffic with a weight limit of 10 tons for two-axle vehicles and 18 tons for vehicles with three or more axles. Heavy construction equipment shall not be driven over or places on the bridge at any time.”
Bean said that if the Surgoinsville bridge is closed he will give the community as much forewarning as possible, and hopefully it won’t remain closed for long.