Two bridges on Highway 444 in Tellico Village will be limited to one lane each as crews work on much-needed repairs over the next few months.
Mid-State Construction Company Inc., started repair work Aug. 17 on Ski Cove and Clear Prong Creek bridges. The project, at a cost of $744,317.73, is scheduled for completion April 30, Mark Nagi, Tennessee Department of Transportation spokesman, said.
Nagi said repairs include removing and replacing exposed deteriorated concrete and steel on the bridges.
More specifically, the project consists of removing part of the bridge by hydro demolition and replacing the damaged areas with epoxy concrete, according to Ed Wilson, Tellico Village Highway Safety Committee chairman.
Wilson said the local committee is a joint effort between the Tellico Village Property Owners Association and Tellico Village HomeOwners Association.
“The bridge will be completely painted and the painting contractor will be required to keep paint and sand blasting materials out of the lake,” according to information provided by Wilson. “Additionally, the expansion joints will be repaired and the approaches will be repaved allowing a (smoother) transition from the road to the bridge. ... TDOT has a team that routinely inspects all state highway bridges. During their last inspection here it was noted that both bridge decks were failing. The concrete has failed to a point where reinforcing steel has been exposed. Once the reinforcing steel is exposed it will rust and deterioration will accelerate.”
Nagi said crews are working at the same time on both bridges.
“Assurance that the bridges are structurally stable,” he said in an email correspondence. “One thing to always keep in mind is that we will not allow any bridge/roadway to be open if we feel that it is a danger to the motoring public.”
Lanes will be limited on each bridge with a traffic light. Normal boat traffic should not be impacted, but vertical clearance will be reduced while painting occurs.
As work progresses, lanes will shift.
“Red light wait is less than two minutes on both bridges, both directions,” Nagi said. “Timing has been adjusted to maximize traffic flow, while reducing the wait at either end. Since a clear time is needed to allow the last car through the site before the alternate directional traffic can advance, there must be a lag time with neither directional traffic flowing.
“A camera is mounted on the signal system to maximize the flow,” he added. “When traffic remained in lanes until the lane shift, the camera will detect the vehicles.”
POA Public Works Director Jeff Gagley said he has not heard complaints from drivers on the wait time. He asked Villagers for patience.
Wilson agreed as crews make repairs.
“We’re fortunate to live in a state where the TDOT inspects their bridges regularly, and these two bridges were found to be deteriorating,” Wilson said. “Unlike other states who put off their maintenance, Tennessee takes care of their bridges, and so that’s a big deal.”
For questions or comments, contact the highway safety committee at firstname.lastname@example.org.
“We have a great working relationship with the TDOT,” Wilson said. “Nothing happens out here of major importance without them notifying us like mowing the right of way. TDOT’s put more than $100 million in the last 10 years in Loudon County between Tennessee River bridge and the paving of (U.S. Highway) 321 and that intersection at Highway 11 and paving of Tellico Parkway. They’ve been a great partner to work with.”