DEL RIO (WATE) - A Cocke County bridge is closed for a project expected to last two years.
The Wolf Creek Bridge over the French Broad River on State Route 9 closed at 10 a.m. on Tuesday.
Construction crews got to work Tuesday on the two-year repair project to restore the nearly 75-year-old bridge.
The Tennessee Department of Transportation plans to extend the width of the bridge about 24 to 30 feet and said the project will extend the bridge's lifetime up to 50 years.
The bridge was built in 1928 and is eligible for the National Registry of Historical Places, which is a big part of why TDOT chose to save it.
Residents like Lemmy Wilson are now trying to live without the vital bridge.
"It's not good for us, it will restrict and cost us some business is what it will do," said Lemmy Wilson, owner of Wilson Livestock Market.
Wilson owns a livestock market and without relying on the bridge to transport cattle into North Carolina, he expects to lose about eight percent from the bottom line each year.
"It's an inconvenience, to say the least," he said. "You know, anytime you have a hindrance to a small business such this, you try to figure out a way to get around this bridge closure," he said.
Cocke County Partnership, an economic partnership, said other business will be affected, as will tourism. Officials there estimate 4,500 cars travel the Dixie Highway each day.
"We know there's going to be folks coming through, especially folks who want to travel off the interstate. They prefer off the major highway and want to see the mountain and rivers up close. That could be an impact for them, if they're not aware of the road closure," said Donald Hurst, president, Cocke County Partnership.
Many are using Fugate Road as a way to get around the construction and to drive into Newport.
TDOT spent close to $800,000 on safety upgrades on Fugate Road, such as upgrades to signs and improving the railroad crossings.
There are still concerns that the additional traffic will be too much for the small and windy road.
"It's not the most satisfactory or safest place to travel because it's very restricted on size because of the river and the railroad," said Wilson.
The three mile stretch of Fugate Road is narrow, surrounded by a railroad, and is one-way in some parts.
Fugate Road residents like Juanita Willis say they expect to see a lot more traffic.
"I guess everyone will have to have some patience," Willis said.
This closure means two rather lengthy detours.
"There are no real shortcuts through the national park. There are no shortcuts over the river. The posted detours really need to be adhered to," said Hurst.
There's a 40-mile detour for passenger vehicles. Drivers would take State Route 107 and continue to State Route 70.
The truck traffic detour is 63 miles, from Newport on U.S. 321 to Greeneville and then back down State Route 70.