Henley Bridge detour causes confusion for some drivers

Henley Bridge detour causes confusion for some South Knoxville drivers

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By ERICA ESTEP
6 News Anchor/Reporter

KNOXVILLE (WATE) - For weeks now Tennessee Department of Transportation officials have been on a campaign to get the word out about the closing of the Henley Bridge in downtown Knoxville.

The department wants drivers to know about the two-and-a-half year closure and how to get around it.

The main detour is James White Parkway to Moody Avenue and Chapman Highway.

Drivers coming from South Knoxville into downtown Knoxville Thursday were confronted with the new detour for the first time.

Some drivers said they weren't ready for it.

"It is confusing," said South Knoxville resident Dominique Brown. "A lot of people don't know which lane to go in and then they made a new intersection down the street. So it's really confusing."

There's a new traffic pattern northbound on Chapman Highway at Moody Avenue. Two right turn lanes now take vehicles onto Moody for the detour to James White Parkway. 

There's only one northbound lane to reach the homes and businesses between Moody and the Henley Bridge and you can no longer turn left on Moody.

"It's one of these things we just have to go through," South Knoxville resident Von Neubauer said. "The town's growing, the county's growing, everything's just getting bigger with more and more people. Just going to have to face it and bear with it."

Long time South Knoxville resident A.L. Clark said he's most concerned about the business owners on Chapman Highway between Moody and the bridge, but he thinks TDOT is doing a good job with the detour.

"I don't think they really have much choice of how to send the majority of the traffic around," he said. "However, those of us who have lived here quite a while know other ways to sneak around the road blocks."

People that use the Henley Bridge may decide after the detour that the Gay Street Bridge is their fastest and best option. TDOT officials say, however, that may not be the best idea.

"If you try to shift 38,000 vehicles on a bridge that typically sees 7,000, there are traffic signals also involved there as you're entering the Gay Street Bridge and leaving the Gay Street Bridge," explained TDOT Community Relations Officer Yvette Martinez. "You could run into quite a traffic hang up."

There is also a new traffic pattern on James White Parkway and a new temporary traffic signal.

TDOT plans to install curbs on Sunday night leading drivers away from the Henley bridge. Crews will start that work after evening church services end downtown.

The official closing happens at 12:01 Monday morning.

For more on the project, including detour maps and live cameras showing the work underway, visit TDOT's web site.  

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