Significant drop in some traffic during Henley Bridge project

Significant drop in some South Knoxville traffic during Henley Bridge project

Posted:
Ruby Tuesday on Chapman Highway will shut down. Ruby Tuesday on Chapman Highway will shut down.
"We've changed the variety of what we are doing," Michael Grooms said, expanding his services to survive and counting the days until the bridge reopens. "We've changed the variety of what we are doing," Michael Grooms said, expanding his services to survive and counting the days until the bridge reopens.

By HANA KIM
6 News Reporter

KNOXVILLE (WATE) - As the two-and-a-half-year project to reconstruct the Henley Bridge continues, it's anything but business as usual for several businesses and restaurants along the north end of Chapman Highway.

Since the construction started in January, the detour has been James White Parkway to Moody Avenue. That means thousands of cars that would normally drive by may now use the detour and bypass a portion of Chapman Highway.

Zak Abu, manager of Speedmart near the intersection of Henley Street and Blount Avenue, says its cash flow has decreased by up to 20% since the closure.

"Your expenses are still running and you don't have customers," Abu said. "A lot of businesses couldn't survive."

That's happening to Ruby Tuesday's on Chapman Highway. The restaurant confirmed to 6 News on Thursday it's shutting down after significant hail damage in April and fewer customers since the bridge closure.

Some business owners say they're seeing a lot less traffic on Chapman Highway between Blount and Moody Avenues, especially in the morning hours.

Numbers from the Tennessee Department of Transportation back up their observation.

The traffic count on that section of Chapman Highway before the closure was 2,020 vehicles during the morning peak hour. That compares to 731 vehicles after the closure.

That's a 63% decrease in traffic volume according to a recent detour study released by TDOT.

When Baptist Hospital closed several years back, it took most of Chapman Highway Muffler's customers with it.

It's not as bad this time around, but owner Michael Grooms says his business has dropped off by 30%.

"We've changed the variety of what we are doing," Grooms said, expanding his services to survive and counting the days until the bridge reopens.

The Henley Bridge is expected to reopen on June 30, 2013.

Some business owners say although they're hurting from the closure, they understand the bridge must be improved.

In 2008, the average daily traffic on the Henley Bridge was 38,813. Projected daily traffic in 2022 is 53,000 vehicles a day.

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