For the first time in nearly three years, drivers will again be able to cross the Tennessee River using Knoxville's Henley Street Bridge. On Wednesday, Tennessee Department of Transportation Commissioner John Schroer announced one lane in each direction will re-open to traffic jus tafter midnight on Thursday, October 17.
Initially, only one lane of traffic in each direction -- northbound and southbound -- will be open to motorists. Pedestrians and bicyclists will not be allowed on the bridge as workers continue to complete the $31-million renovation project. TDOT says all four lanes should be open by next February, with full access to cars, pedestrians and bicyclists by the summer of 2014.
The news was welcomed by both Knoxville Mayor Madeleine Rogero and Knox County Mayor Tim Burchett, who applauded Wednesday's announcement. Earlier estimates called for the bridge to re-open in February 2014. Statements released by Rogero and Burchett also made reference to south Knoxville businesses whose bottom lines have been affected by the dropoff in traffic that followed the bridge's 2011 closure.