Rocky Top sets plan to move water line for bridge replacement

Reconstruction of a small bridge over a tributary of Coal Creek near downtown Rocky Top should be completed within the next two to three months, after city officials move a waterline that was unexpectedly found after the old bridge was demolished in May.

The bridge, connecting Meadow Street from Main Street to Leach Avenue and back to Main Street, was supposed to have been rebuilt within about three months after work began in May.

But when the contractor tore out the old bridge and began boring to put in concrete supports for the new one, crews found a four-inch waterline that was not on the city’s maps – and it was in the way.

“We have a waterline that runs right where they’re doing the work,” Rocky Top City Manager Michael Foster said. “They demolished the old bridge, then ran into a waterline we didn’t know was there. We finally found it on an old map from the 1970s.”

Work was then stopped until the city could determine where the line ran and what customers were served by it, and how to move it to allow bridge construction to proceed.

“It took us a while to get somebody to look at it, and get some prices on boring it through the creek,” Foster said. “Then COVID hit some of our guys.

“We looked at valving [the line] off during construction, but there are four or five homes it serves. We can’t have it be down for a few weeks while we’re building a bridge. Those people would be without water during that time.

“With this [new] bridge, the abutment goes right where that line is on both sides,” Foster said. “They have to dig down until they hit rock, then they will start pouring concrete.

“We will have our part done [this] week,” Foster said. “We’re just going to move [the line] out of their way so they can work around it.

“Those houses will be out of water during our work time, but we’ll be able to do it in one day.”

Foster said the foreman for the contractor, Twin K Construction of Scott County, “Thinks he will have his crew out there next week to start.”

The delay on the city’s part is because “We had to order the pipe,” Foster said. “Once that comes in, our water department crew will be digging down, and connecting it on both sides to move it over. We’ll do it all in house.”

The pipe is about $4 a foot, and approximately 200 feet is needed, Foster said.

The bridge project itself, with a final bid price of $263.667, is being paid for by the state under former Gov. Bill Haslem’s Improve Act, which raised the state gasoline tax to pay for bridge and road projects statewide, Foster said.