KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) The Tennessee Department of Transportation said it will rebuild three piers supporting the Henley Bridge in Knoxville rather than try to repair the severely deteriorated concrete pillars.
The Knoxville News Sentinel reported officials aren’t sure yet how much more time and money it will add to the $24.7 million project that has closed the span for two years. Originally, the bridge had a completion date set for June 30.
TDOT bridge division director Wayne Seger said officials should have “a very honed estimate” by mid-January.
Seger said damage to three of the seven piers supporting the bridge was more extensive than originally thought. He said the contractor, Britton Bridge LLC, will decide how to remove the existing piers. He said construction plans call for adding more structural integrity to the structure.
“We’re looking at getting a lot of years out of this bridge,” Seger said. “If it means going an extra mile that will ensure a longer life rather than patching it, I think that’s the direction we’re going in.”
He also noted that less future maintenance would be required if the piers are rebuilt.
He said it wasn’t possible for engineers to know beforehand how much the piers had deteriorated.
“It’s like remodeling your house,” Seger said. “You have an estimated time and once you’re in the wall you find other things wrong and it takes a lot longer.”
The degraded concrete was discovered as workers dug away at surface spots to be repaired. One pier had a hole entirely through the 2-ft. (.6 m) wide concrete.
“When you start pneumatic hammering on it, that’s the tale to be told,” Seger said.
Rebuilding the piers is critical to the rest of the work on the 81-year-old structure since the piers support the rest of the span.
“You’ve got to bring the piers up because they solidify the structure,” he said.