Mayors, business owners frustrated with Henley Bridge progress

Mayors, business owners frustrated with Henley Bridge progress

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"We are very disappointed and amazed how this has taken place," said Ron Emery, the owner of Emery's 5 and 10. "We are very disappointed and amazed how this has taken place," said Ron Emery, the owner of Emery's 5 and 10.
"It's devastating to these business and it just ticks me off," said Mayor Tim Burchett. "It's devastating to these business and it just ticks me off," said Mayor Tim Burchett.
"The businesses there, I know that many of them are suffering because of this, so I'm very concerned about the delay," Mayor Madeline Rogero said. "The businesses there, I know that many of them are suffering because of this, so I'm very concerned about the delay," Mayor Madeline Rogero said.

By ALEXIS ZOTOS
6 News Reporter

KNOXVILLE (WATE) - More local leaders are disappointed about the prospect of the Henley Bridge being closed longer than expected.

On Tuesday night, state Rep. Joe Armstrong told 6 News that TDOT officials told him the bridge had deteriorated more than planned, and the project likely won't be complete by the original June deadline.

Frustration and disappointment were the words used most by local leaders and business owners upon hearing the news.

Both Knoxville Mayor Madeline Rogero and Knox County Mayor Tim Burchett say they understand the complexity of the project and that the most recent discovery of the deteriorated pillars was unforeseen.

But they say for the sake of local businesses, something needs to change.

"We are very disappointed and amazed how this has taken place," said Ron Emery, the owner of Emery's 5 and 10.

Emery says it has been two years and could be much longer and now it's time someone stepped in.

"We feel the state and the city should do more to help us," he said.

Knox County Mayor Tim Burchett held the first cash mob nearly one year ago at Emery's 5 and 10, hoping to counter some of the lost business.

Now, with the possibility of an extended timeline, he thinks the state may need to step in.

"It might be something we'd have to go to Nashville to talk to them about to give those folks some relief, to give them just a little relief," Burchett said. "A few hundred, a few thousand dollars might be the difference between them shutting their doors or staying open."

Knoxville Mayor Madeline Rogero has a front row view of the slow progress.

"The businesses there, I know that many of them are suffering because of this, so I'm very concerned about the delay," she said.

Both she and Mayor Burchett are frustrated with the project.

"It's devastating to these business and it just ticks me off, for lack of a better thing," said Burchett.

State Sen. Becky Duncan Massey says she's disappointed but believes TDOT will make up for lost time

"They've got to do it safely, if we add a crane here or this or that," she said.

Ron Emery just hopes its sooner rather than later.

"I would think at this point if I were TDOT, I would say these businesses have suffered enough, maybe its time to work 24 hours a day," he said.

The biggest thing officials and local businesses want to stress, though, is that just because the bridge remains closed and could remain so for an extended period, there are other ways to get to South Knoxville and they encourage everyone to use alternatives like the Gay Street Bridge.

TDOT was tight-lipped Wednesday, saying the latest details on the updated timeline will be released on Monday at a news conference with the department's commissioner.

As for contractor Britton Bridge, the company could have received bonuses for completing the work early. It's unclear whether those will be re-evaluated along with the updated timeline.

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