Henley Bridge original completion date passes

Henley Bridge original completion date passes, now set for February 2014

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In the two years since the bridge has been closed, locally owned businesses south of the river say they've been dealing with a big drop in customers. In the two years since the bridge has been closed, locally owned businesses south of the river say they've been dealing with a big drop in customers.
"We all kind of hoped it'd be a lot faster than it has been," said Epperhart. "We all kind of hoped it'd be a lot faster than it has been," said Epperhart.

By HAYLEY HARMON
6 News Anchor/Reporter

KNOXVILLE (WATE) - Sunday was supposed to be the day when the Henley Bridge would reopen after more than two years of construction, but that target completion date has now been pushed back a full eight months to February 2014.

The bridge is the main route to South Knoxville, where local businesses and residents say they are more ready than ever for the project to be finished.

In the two years since the bridge has been closed, locally owned businesses south of the river say they've been dealing with a big drop in customers.

Losing the main road to get here put a big dent in their business.

"It's gone downhill," said Kayla Epperhart, owner of Packard's Games and Movies in South Knoxville.

Epperhart says she and other business owners had been looking forward to Sunday, June 30, the original completion date, for a long time.

"We all kind of hoped it'd be a lot faster than it has been," said Epperhart.

So after all this time, and the bridge still not open, it's tough knowing there are several more months left on the project.

"We just have to mow through the summer months," said Epperhart.

Once it finally does reopen, she hopes more people will start making the drive to South Knoxville and keep coming back.

"I hope it'll boom back up business again. Once they realize what South Knoxville has to offer and what we as a business has to offer. Our business is just run on repeat customers," said Epperhart.

But it's not just businesses anxious to see the Henley Bridge back open.

Residents of South Knoxville say getting to other parts of town will be a lot easier once they can use the bridge again.

"It's going to be much easier because it'll be pretty much a straight shot to where I have to go," said South Knoxville resident Whitney Howell. "I'm a little anxious for it. I can't wait until it reopens."

Residents are tired of having to use the much smaller Gay Street bridge to cross the river every day.

"Sometimes in the morning, there's a big traffic jam," said Wei Lu of South Knoxville.

They say February is a long way away, but they have no choice but to keep their eyes on the road and just wait it out.

"That's too long. That's too long for us," said Lu.

The new target completion date is February 28, 2014.

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