Henley Bridge Project faces another delay; business owners worry

Henley Bridge Project faces another delay; business owners concerned

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The Henley Street Bridge project was supposed to be complete on June 30, 2013. But TDOT officials aren't sure they can meet that deadline. The Henley Street Bridge project was supposed to be complete on June 30, 2013. But TDOT officials aren't sure they can meet that deadline.
"With the bridge closed it's a lot harder for UT students to get here," said Rush's Music employee Laura Gustatson. "With the bridge closed it's a lot harder for UT students to get here," said Rush's Music employee Laura Gustatson.

By JOSH AULT
6 News Reporter

KNOXVILLE (WATE) - The Henley Bridge Project has encountered several major hurdles since it was first started two years ago, including the death of two construction workers.

Just this month, Tennessee Department of Transportation officials announced that several piers that were slated to be repaired are now going to have to be replaced.

The Henley Street Bridge project was supposed to be complete on June 30, 2013. But TDOT officials aren't sure they can meet that deadline.

"TDOT is currently working on a revised schedule in terms of the Henley Bridge project," said TDOT spokesperson Mark Nagi. "A decision is expected to be made on that at the end of the next week."

While TDOT officials wait for a new time table, business owners on the other side of the river in South Knoxville, hope things can pick up.

"With the bridge closed it's a lot harder for UT students to get here," said Rush's Music employee Laura Gustatson. "We used to have UT students come in after class and we would have a bunch of them here around 4 o'clock in the afternoon, and not so much of that now because they really want to get here to come."

Gustatson says even though they have lost business, most people are figuring their way around the detours.

"If they need to rent an instrument or have an instrument repaired, they will find us," she said.

"We're hoping it gets open soon," said Tapp Optical employee Angie Borst.  "When it very first closed it probably affected our business the first five to six months. I think the way they advertised the detours, they made the public think everything was closed downtown, at Gay Street bridge, to Moody."

TDOT officials say recently they have not heard as many complaints from residents.

"The projects been open for two years now," said Nagi. "We had more comments early on in the process. People are always welcome to leave questions or comments they may have."  

Along with not knowing when this project will be complete, the new cost of the new work is still in question.

Knox County Mayor Tim Burchett is critical of how the state has handled this project.

"It's not acceptable is what it is," said Mayor Burchett. "The state in my opinion has done a very poor job of keeping the businesses alerted to what's going on. I got an email this morning on Facebook, of all things; it's a small business over there. They think they're not going to be able to hold on. That's why we did those cash mobs. We really focused on South Knoxville, but it's going to take more than that."

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