A second southbound approach lane to the Lewallen Bridge from Charles G. Seivers Boulevard reopened to traffic Monday afternoon after being closed since late November because of a collapse of part of the roadway caused by heavy rains.
On the northbound side, however, traffic will remain limited to one lane on the bridge “probably … throughout the remainder of the [new bridge construction] project,” said Lynn Murphy, transportation consultant for the city of Clinton.
Reopening of the second southbound lane had been scheduled for last Thursday (Jan. 3), but was delayed until Monday because of rain on Thursday and Friday, Murphy said.
Work to repair the collapse of the right northbound exit lane from the bridge began right after the rains in late November caused that side of the road to slide down the east side embankment.
During the repairs, traffic was restricted to one lane in each direction on Clinch Avenue on the west side of the bridge up to the road’s intersection with Seivers Boulevard, which caused some traffic delays during heavy traffic hours.
The collapse came where construction crews were working to install one of the abutments for the new Clinch River bridge, which has been under construction for a year and five months just upstream from the Lewallen Bridge.
As for the slide, there were no issues with the bridge itself, Clinton City Manager Roger Houck said at the time.
“What eroded was the roadway leading up to the bridge structure. The bridge had nothing to do with it, and the bridge is structurally sound.”
Crews working to build an abutment for the new bridge “had driven some metal pilings to pour footings … and water got under those,” causing the easternmost traffic lane to collapse on the exit from the bridge, Houck said.
Because of the reduction to one lane going south, the two left-turn lanes from westbound Charles G. Seivers Boulevard to the Lewallen Bridge were also reduced to one, as were the straight-through lanes from Main Street feeding onto the bridge.
Orange cones were placed on those approaches to redirect the traffic.
On Monday, those cones were lifted after the roadway was re-striped to create two southbound lanes, and traffic flow was allowed to return to normal for traffic heading into South Clinton.
The new bridge is scheduled to open to traffic by late next year, Houck said. Then, the longtime downtown landmark better known as the Green Bridge will be demolished and removed.
The entire project is expected to be completed by June 30, 2021, Houck said.