Officials with the Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT) plan to close the Marion Memorial Bridge that takes US-41 over the Tennessee River at Haletown indefinitely on January 9th, 2012.
Work is underway at this time to replace the bridge, however the closure will now delay the project’s completion date until February 2014. That’s just over two years that residents East of the river will have to find a detour to reach points West of the river by detouring as much as 1.5 miles.
Officials have decided the closure is necessary after TDOT crews found unexpected problems with the bridge’s subsurface materials underneath the riverbed that require deeper excavation for concrete footings for the new bridge’s piers, officials said.
TDOT plans to post detour signs in the next two weeks.
The 1,870 ft. bridge over Nickajack Lake was built prior to the construction of Nickajack Dam in 1929, and was later raised in order to accommodate the higher waters of the new reservoir.
While some people would like to see the bridge preserved in some way, TDOT officials say the bridge is costly to maintain, citing as an example the repainting cost of $1 million, chance for the bridge’s survival is unlikely.
TDOT replaced a bridge of similar design that carried US Highway 58 over the Hiwassee River in Meigs County in 2007. That bridge was imploded after replacement.
Information from: Chattanooga Times Free Press