Motorists still waiting for traffic to be moved to new Lewallen Bridge

Work is still progressing on making connections from the new Clinch River bridge in Clinton to the highway sections it serves, but there’s still no word on when traffic will be moved onto the bridge, a city official said Monday.

Lynn Murphy, the city of Clinton’s liaison with the Tennessee Department of Transportation on the bridge project, said he met with the on-site superintendent for bridge contractor Blalock Construction Co. Monday morning, trying to get an update on the work’s progress.

TDOT spokesman Mark Nagi told The Courier News three weeks ago that northbound traffic could be moved from the present bridge onto the new span as early as Sept. 12 or 13 “if all goes well,” but that did not happen.

Murphy said he did get some new information from the Blalock superintendent Monday.

“Legitimately, utilities (AT&T, Verizon, and the street light electrical contractor) have delayed the road builder’s work on the bridge ends,” Murphy said via email to The Courier News. “They hit rock while trenching on the south end, but it seems they could have started a month earlier, knowing the rock was present, from previous work.

“Today, they were about to start installing concrete curb and gutter and sidewalk on the south end, which immediately precedes asphalt installation. Utility contractors were boring beneath Clinch Avenue this morning, working on the north end, pulling conduit and wire for street lighting.

“When the weather allows, curb and gutter for the south end takes one day. Sidewalk after that (2-3 days), then asphalt begins (2 days). Repeat this scenario for the north end, once everyone is out of the way.

“Then northbound traffic gets moved to the new bridge (2 lanes). Then, after about 2 days and nights of asphalt milling and paving, southbound traffic moves over to the new bridge. Demolition of the old bridge soon begins after that.”

The contract the state of Tennessee had with Blalock to build the new bridge expired on Aug. 31, yet work to complete the project is sill “several months” away, Murphy said in late August.

City officials say they have not been able to get an update from TDOT on when the Lewallen Bridge (Green Bridge) replacement actually will be finished. The new bridge is entirely a project of the state, and the city has no control over any aspect of it.

In a report to the city on Aug. 24, Murphy, said:

“The three-year contract between TDOT and Blalock for both the construction of a new bridge and the demolition of the old bridge (for $27,735,614.56) expires on August 31, 2021. Obviously, the remaining work will take several months to complete.”

Murphy said the bridge replacement project began Sept. 17, 2018, so it has now been underway more than three years.

Demolition of the old (Green Bridge) will begin shortly after all traffic is moved to the new bridge, Murphy said.

The new bridge will carry the same official name as the one it is replacing, Murphy said: The Hon. William Everett Lewallen Memorial Bridge, or Lewallen Bridge for short.