34 Months In, Henley Bridge Re-Opens to Traffic
On January 3, 2011, Knoxville's Henley Street Bridge closed for an extensive renovation. On October 17, 2013 -- 1,018 days later -- the bridge has re-opened to traffic, albeit on the limited basis.
The Tennessee Department of Transportation says two lanes of the bridge are ready to go and re-opened to motor vehicles shortly after midnight Thursday morning. But the bridge's other two vehicle lanes aren't schedule to open until next February. Pedestrians and bicyclists must wait even longer as bridge construction continues. Full access to all travelers isn't expected until June 2014.
Nevertheless, local officials applauded last week's announcement of the re-opening.
"This is great news for businesses and residents in South Knox County. Unfortunately, the final completion of the bridge is sometime away, so it's important that we continue to support businesses south of the river," read a statement released by county mayor Tim Burchett. Knoxville Mayor Madeleine Rogero echoed those sentiments in a similar statement.
The $31-million dollar project suffered a few setbacks that pushed the completion date past the original 24- to 30-month estimated closure. Safety questions were raised in the wake of two worker deaths in 2010 and 2011, and work was stopped for a short period in May 2011 as a state labor investigation took place. No safety violations have been recorded at the site since then.
A bigger impediment to the original timetable was uncovered in December 2012. Engineers discovered greater-than-expected deterioration in three of the bridge's main support piers, requiring more drastic repairs.