The first concrete span of the replacement bridge over the Tennessee River on U.S. Highway 41 in Marion County looks as if it's stretching to reach the other side.
Tennessee Department of Transportation officials say the project is on schedule for 2014 completion, as the last of seven piers is nearly finished.
The replacement bridge's final pier "will be complete this week or next," TDOT spokeswoman Jennifer Flynn said.
Crews are preparing to set the concrete beams on all the spans this summer, Flynn said.
"Things have gone very well this year, so far," she said. "We still expect to have the new bridge open to traffic by February 2014."
The $21.5 million project has remained within budget, she said.
Delays caused by the discovery of voids and unsuitable material on the river bottom have not affected the project since the first pier work began in fall 2011, according to officials. Site work on the project started in March 2011, when the original completion date was August 2013.
Andy Horstman, construction manager for Chattanooga-based Volkert Inc., estimated on Friday that the project now is about 60 percent complete.
"It's going well right now," Horstman said. "The last pier will be finished by the end of the month, and hopefully by the end of next month you'll see another span of those beams."
The replacement bridge will extend 1,883 feet across the river, just 30 feet or so away from the original 84-year-old Parker truss-style bridge built in 1929. The new bridge will be about 30 feet wider, 13 feet longer and three feet higher above the river surface than its predecessor.
Contact staff writer Ben Benton at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6569. Find him on Facebook at facebook.com/ben.benton1 and at twitter.com/BenBenton on Twitter.
Ben Benton is a news reporter at the Chattanooga Times Free Press. He covers Southeast Tennessee and previously covered North Georgia education. Ben has worked at the Times Free Press since November 2005, first covering Bledsoe and Sequatchie counties and later adding Marion, Grundy and other counties in the northern and western edges of the region to his coverage. He was born and raised in Cleveland, Tenn., a graduate of Bradley Central High School. Benton ...