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Crews Ready for Closure of Henley Bridge

henley bridge 2010 henley bridge 2010
Henley Street Bridge, 2010. Photos by John Disque

The Tennessee Department of Transportation is encouraging motorists to plan their routes now for when the Henley Bridge in Knoxville closes for reconstruction in January 2011. Once the closure begins, motorists will need to use James White Parkway to reach downtown Knoxville, the University of Tennessee campus and South Knoxville.

In the next month, motorists will notice the contractor posting detour signs, installing two temporary traffic signals at the on and off ramps of James White Parkway and Sevierville Pike, and making other improvements to the official detour route including the widening of the on and off ramps at James White Parkway. The closure is scheduled to begin January 3, 2011.

"We have worked diligently with law enforcement, emergency responders, businesses and the University of Tennessee to prepare for this long-term closure and we hope motorists are also preparing," said TDOT Commissioner Gerald Nicely. "We realize the closure will be inconvenient, but the bridge is in poor condition and must be reconstructed to preserve its historic integrity. We are committed to looking at this closure from a motorist, visitor, boater and business person's perspective and will monitor traffic and other conditions throughout the life of the project to minimize the impacts to motorists."

For many who travel the bridge, the structure has become a familiar route with a convenient purpose. However, for David Henley, the bridge is part of his family's legacy. David was only five-years-old when the bridge was dedicated in his great, great, great grandfather's name on January 2, 1932. Colonel David Henley was a Revolutionary War hero immortalized with plaques, a street and a bridge dedicated in his honor.

"I have always appreciated that Colonel David and his descendents were honored with these tributes," David Henley said. "We will always be very well aware of the significance of this bridge to our family for generations to come."

The 84-year old Rockwood resident is pleased the historic look and plaques will remain a part of the rehabilitated bridge.

During the closure, which is scheduled to begin on January 3, 2011, the contractor, Britton Bridge, LLC., will dismantle the structure down to the concrete arches and carefully reconstruct the bridge. Britton Bridge has already moored a barge under the south end of the bridge to begin work dismantling the bridge as soon as the closure is in place. The contractor is working closely with the Coast Guard to ensure there will be 85 ft. of clearance for vessels traveling under the bridge throughout the project. The contractor is also providing a tug boat to guide vessels safely through the construction area. The Coast Guard and TDOT will provide updates if the navigational channel needs to be blocked temporarily during the project.

Published December 4, 2010

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