Several Blount County bridges called ‘deficient’
By Joel Davis | (email@example.com)
The federal National Bridge Inventory lists several bridges in Blount County as structurally deficient, but officials are taking steps to monitor and fix any problems.
A bridge is “structurally deficient” when it is in need of rehabilitation or replacement because at least one major component of the span has advanced deterioration or other problems that lead inspectors to deem its condition “poor” or worse.
One such bridge, on Springview Road near its intersection with Morganton Road, is owned by CSX Railroad. Highway Superintendent Bill Dunlap expects a repeat of the scenario the county faced with the Binfield Road bridge, which was closed from March 2008 until it was repaired in 2010.
“(The Springview Road) bridge belongs to CSX,” Dunlap said. “The state watches it. More than likely when that one goes a little further and the state looks at it and they choose to lower the weight limit or close it, we’ll have to go through the same process with CSX that I went through with the Binfield Creek bridge. They will not claim it, but it is their structure. They will pay me to take it and replace it.”Another bridge listed as structurally deficient, located on East Millers Cove Road, was replaced earlier in the year. There is always a lag between the repair or replacement of a bridge and the state updating its status with the federal government, Dunlap said.
A second bridge classified as structurally deficient on the same road is scheduled to be replaced soon. “I have part of the material now in the yard to replace the last one on East Millers Cove Road,” Dunlap said. “I’ve got my permit for it.”
A bridge on Cold Springs Road is classified as structurally deficient, but it does not pose a danger, Dunlap said. “It’s a sound bridge. It’s just one lane.”
A two-lane bridge on Andy Harris Road that crosses Nails Creek is also listed as structurally deficient. Dunlap said the Highway Department is monitoring the situation but that the bridge is still sound. Water has started undercutting the footer on one end of the bridge.
“The bridge will still hold up what it’s designed to hold up,” Dunlap said.
There are two bridges listed as structurally deficient in Great Smoky Mountains National Park. One is on Forge Creek Road, and the other is on Parsons Branch Road. Neither bridge is heavily traveled, GSMNP spokeswoman Molly Schroer said.
“All the bridges in the Park are inspected every two years,” she said. “Every year we do apply for funding for repair of our bridges. (Those two) don’t rate very highly to receive funding, so we’ve not received funding to repair them.
“We’ve mitigated the issues out there by reducing the weight limits along those roads,” she said. “There are no large trucks, no large RVs because they are side roads. It’s only passenger vehicles. They are not rated for heavy traffic.”
The Tennessee Department of Transportation is responsible for the last of the structurally deficient bridges. It is located on SR-115 over Nine Mile Creek.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.