TDOT pushes back completion date for Henley Street Bridge project

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) -- It's going to take longer than expected to renovate the Henley Street Bridge. Standing in front of the unfinished project, TDOT officials said they don't expect work to be completed until well into next year.

If we continued making the necessary repairs to the piers, we were looking at delays to the project that would have prevented us from reopening it to traffic until the summer of 2014,” said TDOT Commissioner John Schroer."

They said they now plan on the bridge reopening on or before February 28, 2014. The bridge had originally been slated to open this Summer, but last month TDOT said three of the bridge's piers would need to be rebuilt.

“We feel confident that we have examined every option available to us to move the project forward safely and efficiently. The decision to rebuild the piers will ultimately save time, and will result in a longer life for the Henley Bridge.”

The agency doesn't expect the entire project to be done until June of next year. Prior to the public announcement, TDOT officials met with Mayors Burchett and Rogero, after which the Knoxville mayor expressed her concerns with the delay.

“I am extremely disappointed that the Henley Bridge opening will be delayed, and I continue to be very concerned about the impact on Chapman Highway businesses and South Knoxville residents,” Mayor Rogero said. “I appreciate Commissioner Schroer’s meeting with me and Mayor Burchett to explain why this delay is necessary.”

The added renovations are expected to tack on another $6 million to the price tag of the project.

TDOT officials pointed out the bridge is more than 80 years old and they expect the renovations to add another 50 years to its lifespan.

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