published Thursday, September 26th, 2013

Britton Bridge LLC, TDOT agree on steel plan for Marion County bridge

The Highway 41 Bridge is seen unfinished in this photo taken Monday.
The Highway 41 Bridge is seen unfinished in this photo taken Monday.
Photo by C. B. Schmelter.

Britton Bridge LLC and the Tennessee Department of Transportation have reached an agreement on the steel plan for the U.S. Highway 41 bridge project in Marion County, officials say.

"The steel beams are on the way," Britton Bridge spokesman John Van Mol said late Wednesday. "As soon as they arrive, we'll get under way."

Britton Bridge officials couldn't say when for the steel beams will arrive at the construction site at Haletown.

TDOT officials and Britton Bridge were at odds over the plan for erecting the steel, so the two groups discussed it and reached an agreement on scheduling late last week. The project has been stalled for well over a month.

Britton Bridge "has approval from our structures division to proceed with the next phase of the bridge," TDOT spokeswoman Jennifer Flynn said. "Steel beams are being transported even as we speak, so work should soon resume on the bridge."

The steel plan is "a step-by-step plan of exactly how they plan to install the steel beams on the new bridge," Flynn has said.

The replacement project began in 2011 with an original completion date of Aug. 31 of this year, but problems early in construction created the first delay.

The completion date was moved to February 2014 after crews had to dig deeper to reach solid bedrock that would support the new bridge piers.

The new bridge replaces the now-closed 1929-era truss bridge that is unsound and too narrow by today's standards.

According to an Associated Press report, an analysis of 607,380 bridges in the National Bridge Inventory shows that 64 of Tennessee's 19,721 listed bridges are both fracture-critical and structurally deficient.

A "fracture critical" bridge does not have redundant protections and could collapse if a single, vital component fails. A "structurally deficient" bridge needs has advanced deterioration or other problems, according to AP.

TDOT officials said the department has current records on 57 of the bridges. Of those, six have been replaced with new structures, three have been repaired and 16, including the Marion County project, are under construction for either replacement or repair.

Contact staff writer Ben Benton at bbenton@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6569.

about Ben Benton...

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 ...

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