Ribbon cut, bridge (officially) opens

  • State, county and local officials and representatives of the Anderson County Chamber of Commerce perform a ceremonial ribbon cutting Monday morning on the old Clinton Green Bridge to celebrate the opening of the new Lewallen Bridge, which is behind them. - G. Chambers Williams III

  • Anderson County Mayor Terry Frank signs a side-by-side photo of the old and new Clinch River bridges before Monday’s ceremony officially opening the new Lewallen Bridge. The framed photo will hang in the offices of the Tennessee Department of Trans- portation. - G. Chambers Williams III

A ceremony on the current Green Bridge over the Clinch River in Clinton officially opened its replacement span on Monday morning, including a symbolic ribbon-cutting with state and local officials participating.

The new Lewallen Bridge was partially opened to traffic in both directions in mid-October, but work continues on additional traffic lanes, sidewalks and bike lanes. And soon after that work is finished, the state plans to begin removing the old bridge, a Clinton landmark since it opened in 1938.

Steve Borden, assistant chief engineer/regional director for the Tennessee Department of Transportation, opened the ceremony under a tent on the old bridge around 11 a.m., giving some history of the Green Bridge and information about its replacement.

Borden said work on the new bridge began in September 2018, and that the contractor for the $27.6 million dollar project is Charles Blalock and Sons, Inc. of Sevierville.

On hand for the ceremony were state, Anderson County and Clinton city officials, including Lt. Gov. Randy McNally, state Rep. John Ragan, Anderson County Mayor Terry Frank and Clinton Mayor Scott Burton.

According to the state Transportation Department, the “existing steel truss bridge was replaced by a webbed-steel girder [bridge] utilizing drilled-shaft foundations.”

“Drivers will benefit from new traffic signals, improved signage, striping, and raised pavement markers that were included in this project,” Borden said. “The roadway portion of the bridge widened lanes from nine feet to 11 feet, and added two six-foot bike lanes.

“It’s a pleasure to be here today to officially open the new State Route 9 bridge with our federal, state and local partners and the citizens of Anderson County,” Borden said.

“The old Green bridge, built in the late 1930s, served its purpose well. We look forward to the new bridge aiding motorists in East Tennessee for decades to come.”

Traffic was switched onto the new span at 4 a.m. Tuesday, Oct. 12. For now, the bridge has two lanes flowing in each direction, which expands to three lanes on the northbound side as it approaches Charles G. Seivers Boulevard from South Clinton on Clinch Avenue.

Also for now, there are just single turn lanes in each direction, and one straight-through lane to Main Street for northbound traffic, which has been causing some backups and delays, especially during heavy traffic periods.

Eventually, there will be two left-turn lanes to head toward Oak Ridge, two straight-through lanes to Main Street, and a single right-turn lane to go toward Interstate 75.

When all work is finished, there will also once again be dual straight-through lanes from Main Street onto the new bridge, and dual left-turn lanes from westbound Seivers Boulevard onto the bridge. There will be only one right-turn lane from eastbound Seivers onto the bridge, which flows better anyway because of the right-turn-on-red policy.

Demolition of the old (Green Bridge) will begin shortly after all work on the new bridge is finished and all lanes are open, which is not expected until early next year.

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