Photo by Jeff Bobo.
Update: Friday, 12:15 p.m.
Hawkins County Highway Superintendent Lowell Bean tells the Times-News that TDOT has given approval to reopen the the Longs Ben Road bridge in Surgoinsvllie.
It's expected to be open to traffic no later than 1 p.m., with a 5 ton weight limit.
SURGOINSVILLE — Repairs were completed on the Longs Bend Road bridge in Surgoinsville Thursday, and Hawkins County officials are now waiting for permission from the state to reopen the bridge.
The old bridge is the main access for Hawkins County residents who live on the south side of the Holston River in the Surgoinsville area to get to their jobs, schools and stores.
Since the bridge was closed July 18 on the order of the Tennessee Department of Transportation, those residents have been enduring a detour of 30 to 45 minutes to cross the closest open bridges.
The closest crossings include the Burem Road bridge near Rogersville, and the Goshen Valley Road bridge near Church Hill.
Hawkins County highway superintendent Lowell Bean told the Times-News Thursday that Simpson Construction, which is also building the new bridge beside the old bridge, had completed the repairs mandated by T-DOT before the Longs Bend Road bridge can be reopened.
T-DOT engineers were inspecting the bridge Thursday, and Bean said he hoped to have permission by Friday afternoon — or Monday at the latest, to reopen the bridge.
“We were up there today (Thursday) doing a little cosmetic work, finishing it up, and T-DOT came up and did their inspection,” Bean said. “They’re going back and do their drawings, and they’ll send those to Nashville this afternoon. Those guys (in Nashville) will look at them and see if everything looks OK, and if they do we’ll get the open it back up.”
Bean added, “I don’t know if it can be opened up Friday, and if it’s not I think it will be opened Monday. It just all depends on T-SDOT, and I hope we get it back tomorrow (Friday) evening, and we can get it open. These (T-DOT) boys from Morristown told me they would e-mail Nashville and tell them this was an ASAP job.”
T-DOT will also evaluate the old bridge and set a new weight limit.
Simpson Construction is building an new bridge beside the old Longs Bend Road bridge.
The new bridge isn’t scheduled for completion until May, but Bean said Simpson Construction is saying the job is way ahead of schedule and may be done by November.
Bean said he isn’t that optimistic, but he wouldn’t be surprised if the new bridge is done before the new year.