SURGOINSVILLE — People who live on the south side of the Holston River in the Surgoinsville area will have one more period of major inconvenience before what will hopefully be decades of smooth travels over a new bridge.
Beginning Monday, the old Longs Bend Road bridge over the Holston River will be closed while the approaches are constructed at both ends of the new bridge.
Hawkins County Highway Superintendent Lowell Bean said Surgoinsville’s river crossing will be closed for three to four weeks, depending on the weather, and should be reopened sometime shortly before Christmas.
Sanford Construction will be building the bridge access roads, and although they will take Thanksgiving Day off, Bean said they will work six days per week after the holiday to get the job done.
Bean said there’s a rush to get the job done now before the asphalt plants close down for the winter.
“They’re wanting to shut it down Monday, and I know it’s Thanksgiving week, but they’re wanting to build those approaches while the weather is good,” Bean said. “Now’s the time to do it because if they postpone it one week this time of year, it could cost us a month down the road. They’re going to try to have it opened by Christmas, and by shutting it down Monday they’re hoping to get it done somewhere around Dec. 20th.”
Bean added, “It’s better to have it closed down next week rather than through Christmas and New Year’s, but that all depends on the weather.”
With the Longs Bend Road bridge closed, that leaves the closest river crossings for people in the Surgoinsville area at Burem Road in Rogersville to the west and Goshen Valley Road in Church Hill to the east. It’s generally a 30-45 minute detour to get from one side of the bridge to the other, which is a major concern for law enforcement, EMS, public works and other services and commuters.
“They’re pouring concrete this week, and next week they’re working on the side walls,” Bean said. “When the approaches get done and it’s paved, the new bridge will be opened up.”