First responders prepare for Henley Bridge closure in Knoxville

First responders prepare for Henley Bridge closure in Knoxville

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By HANA KIM
6 News Reporter

KNOXVILLE (WATE) - The Henley Bridge closes in a little over one month, meaning one less way for drivers and first responders to cross the Tennessee River between South Knoxville and downtown.

About 38,000 vehicles that across the bridge daily will have to use detours.

Knoxville Fire Department officials said Tuesday they have a strategy for the closure.

"My words to the people in South Knoxville is rest assured that the Knoxville Fire Department will take care of you," said spokesman D.J. Corcoran.

Three fire engines will be stationed and used only in the South Knoxville area starting the day of the shutdown, January 3. Two of the three trucks were on standby Tuesday at station 13 off Chapman Highway.

"We have adequate coverage in South Knoxville south of the river," Corcoran said.

If more reinforcement is needed, the detours will have to be used. "It depends on where the call is coming from, where it initiates, whether we take Gay Street Bridge or the South Knoxville connector," Corcoran said.

But what happens if icy conditions shut down the Gay Street Bridge? Rural/Metro says that's when winter emergency mode kicks in for the whole county, with ambulances set up in specific areas anticipating 911 calls.

For now, Rural/Metro says it's business as usual. Even with Henley Bridge off limits for the next two and a half years, they say they are confident that ambulance response times will not be affected too much.

The same goes for the Knoxville Fire Department. It's all about adjusting. "Not really inconvenient, it will just be different," Corcoran said.

The official detour according to the state Department of Transportation is James White Parkway to Moody Avenue to Chapman Highway.

The Henley Bridge is getting the renovation because it doesn't meet current safety standards.

Currently the bridge has two lanes in each direction. After renovations, there will be two vehicle lanes in each direction, a center turn lane, a bike lane in each direction and wider sidewalks.

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