Henley Bridge set to reopen before Thanksgiving

Henley Bridge set to reopen before Thanksgiving


KNOXVILLE (WATE) - The Tennessee Department of Transportation announced Monday that the Henley Bridge in Knoxville will reopen to traffic before the Thanksgiving holiday.

The bridge has been closed to traffic since a major rehabilitation project began in January 2011.

The project was originally scheduled to be complete in June 2013, but the project was delayed after further deterioration within the bridge's concrete piers was discovered.

TDOT had not anticipated opening the bridge until February 2014.

"The repairs didn't have to be that extensive, so the manpower being used or expected to be used on those arches ended up being used for pier reconstruction as well as deck placement," said TDOT spokesperson Mark Nagi. "So, that certainly helped the time schedule, as well as the fact they've worked longer hours. During summer months you have more daylight so you're able to work more at night and they're were working every other Saturday as well."

"Work has progressed rapidly over the past several months, and we are so pleased to be able to reopen this bridge to traffic before the busy holiday season," said TDOT Commissioner John Schroer. "We realize the hardship this closure has placed on residents, business owners, and travelers. We appreciate the public's patience as we move towards the total completion of this important rehabilitation."

The rehabilitated bridge will have a number of new features, including wider sidewalks for pedestrians and bike lanes in each direction.

"TDOT's announcement that the Henley Bridge will open to traffic by Thanksgiving is very good news.  The closing has had a negative impact on businesses and commuters, and I appreciate Commissioner Schroer and TDOT's commitment to getting the bridge re-opened as soon as possible," said Knoxville Mayor Madeline Rogero.

Knox County Mayor Tim Burchett also issued a statement.

"Today's announcement that the Henley Street Bridge will reopen to traffic soon is great news, as the past three years have been extremely difficult for businesses in South Knoxville. This is a good first step toward having normal traffic restored over the bridge. In the meantime, I hope even more Knox County residents will make a point to support South Knoxville businesses," said Mayor Burchett.

There will still be lane closures on Henley Bridge restricting traffic to one travel lane in each direction as crews complete staining, decorative and street lighting, and a gas line that runs the length of the bridge.

The contractor will also focus on removing the official detour and paving sections of Neyland Drive, Moody Avenue, and Chapman Highway.

The entire project is expected to be complete by June 3, 2014.

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