A Hawkins County official said that if the weather cooperates, the new Holston River bridge on Longs Bend Road could be opened in mid-January. Photo courtesy of Johnny Greer
SURGOINSVILLE — Most Surgoinsville residents who live south of the Holston River already know the new bridge won’t be open in time for Christmas, but they’re not letting that dampen their spirits.
A couple of families who live near the south riverbank are even planning to cook a holiday meal for the Simpson Construction crew that is building the new bridge.
With the Surgoinsville bridge on Longs Bend Road closed, there’s a detour of 30-45 minutes for south-siders to get to the next river crossings — either Burem Road near Rogersville to the west; or Goshen Valley Road near Church Hill to the east.
But, south-sider Merrill Graham said he and his wife, Jerilynn, are among about 10 families who keep a car parked at the Surgoinsville Riverfront Park boat ramp parking lot near the north side of the bridge. Rather than driving to the next bridge, they walk across the closed bridge to their cars.
In fact, Merrill Graham had just parked his car and was walking across the bridge back home when the Times-News caught him via cell phone Sunday afternoon.
“The people who live over on Longs Bend and over in the valleys who use the bridge, they’ve really done well,” Graham said. “I’ve not seen any ill feelings. People are anxious for the new bridge to be opened, but they’ve really handled it well. Where we live, we just walk across the bridge, but we have neighbors who drive around and don’t walk at all.”For an expanded version of this article, please see Monday's print edition or our expanded electronic edition.