South Knoxville businesses plan for Henley Bridge closure

South Knoxville businesses plan for Henley Bridge closure


6 News Anchor/Reporter

KNOXVILLE (WATE) - Businesses in South Knoxville are trying to plan ahead for a major change in traffic flow.

The Henley Bridge closes sometime in January, and the closure could last up to three years. Most of it will be taken down and rebuilt.

Imagine owning a successful South Knoxville book shop, then learning the bridge that connects your customers to the road for your store is closing.

"That's a big one for us you know. A three-year shut down is a big deal," said Sean Dietz, with Book Eddy.

The store will move to a new location on the other side of the bridge, and it's going to have a new name.

"We hope to start moving into the other store in the beginning of November and then we want to try to have that one open fairly quickly for the holiday season, though it'll take a while to close this store down," Dietz said.

The Disc Exchange is another popular business in the same shopping center as Book Eddy on Chapman Highway. It needs all the traffic it can get because thanks to digital music, not as many people buy and sell CDs.

Further along Chapman Highway, Ye Ole Steakhouse has been in business for 43 years.

Owner Nancy Ayers says they've already started warning customers about the bridge. "We've already got it on the website the directions of how to get here and we've been telling our customers," Ayers said.

The staff says they aren't too concerned because they serve customers on Boomsday, an event that closes down the bridge. "We feed like 500 people, so evidently they know how to get here," Ayers said.

The state Department of Transportation says Henley Bridge is "structurally deficient and does not meet current safety standards." 

Drivers who use Chapman Highway to connect between downtown and Sevier County will have to practice the detour. It takes them along Moody Drive and James White Parkway.

The Gay Street Bridge in downtown Knoxville will also remain open. However, it has fewer lanes than the parkway.

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