ROGERSVILLE — A high-traffic Rogersville bridge on Armstrong Road near the Broadway Street intersection will be closed beginning Wednesday for an indefinite period of time until it can be replaced.
Rogersville city engineer Joe Parrott told the Board of Mayor and Aldermen last week that the bridge replacement could take a minimum of a year, and as much as two years to complete due to state grant red tape.
Earlier this month, Rogersville received a letter from the state ordering a partial closure of the Armstrong Road bridge over Crockett Creek within 14 days due to it being deemed unsafe at its last inspection.
The city could have avoided the closure by making some repairs, but that wasn’t a plausible alternative due to the 14 day deadline and the fact that the city has already been awarded an 80/20 grant to replace the bridge.
The state had ordered a minimum partial closure by blocking traffic six feet from both sides of the bridge, reducing it to one lane through the middle.
Public works director Mark Morely said that plan would create massive traffic jams on both Armstrong and Broadway Street, especially when school starts.
Last week the Rogersville Board of Mayor and Aldermen opted to close the section of Armstrong Road between Broadway Street and Locust Street where the bridge is located.
Armstrong Road connects Main Street to Broadway Street, and is heavily used due to its proximity to high traffic institutions such as the Rogersville City School, Hawkins County Memorial Hospital and Rogersville Housing Authority.
Morley told the Times-News Monday that although the bridge closure will be an inconvenience, there are nearby detour routes.
Last year Rogersville was awarded a Tennessee Department of Transportation grant that will cover 80 percent of the cost to replace the bridge.
But, the grant is in the early stages, and there’s not yet a timeline for work to begin.
Morley noted that the cost study hasn’t even been completed. Rogersville will still have to decide if it will be administering the project, or if it will turn the entire project over to TDOT.
Then plans will have to be approved, the bids advertised, and a construction contract awarded.
Parrott suggested that board members contact their state senator and representative to see if they can convince TDOT to put this project on the fast track to avoid a one or two year closure.