Bridge to be rehabilitated

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

NASHVILLE - Once known as the state that built roads with cash up front, Tennessee is borrowing money to put with federal stimulus money and fuel taxes for bridge work.

And one of the 111 bridges, named in recent announcements from state officials, crosses Sanders Creek for the Cornersville Road south of New Lake Road and north of Cochran Cemetery Road.

The Tennessee Department of Transportation will advertise a contract for this bridge work in the spring of 2010, a state spokeswoman said Monday.

State Senator Bill Ketron, R-Murfreesboro, says TDOT has approved a "rehabilitation project" for the bridge on U.S. Highway 31A, State Route 11. It was on the Transportation Infrastructure Improvement Bond Program's phase 1 selection list announced by TDOT on Friday.

"We are very pleased that this project has been approved," Senator Ketron said Monday. "It is very important that we continue to make these improvements to keep our roads and bridges safe."

Five months ago, Gov. Phil Bredesen described the planned work as a jobs program.

"The Recovery Act, along with the bridge bonding and TDOT's regular program, will put thousands of Tennesseans to work rebuilding and strengthening one of Tennessee's largest economic drivers, our transportation system," Bredesen said in mid-April. "This three-tiered program represents a record investment in Tennessee's transportation system."

Friday, TDOT identified the 111 bridges across the state that will be replaced, repaired or rehabilitated. TDOT's Better Bridges program was approved this year by the state legislature. It's borrowing money through federal income tax free bonds to pay for the work. The 111 bridges identified are to have the work done in the first year of the four-year program.

"Addressing these projects now rather than later allows us to take advantage of today's lower construction costs," Bredesen said.

The federal Bureau of Labor Statistics reported the price of steel and scrap iron fell nearly 57 percent from June 2008 to June 2009, and cement prices dropped 15 percent during the same period.

Lower construction costs because of labor conditions and other factors kept bids low recently for a Lewisburg sewer repair project.

"Without this program, much of this critical work on structurally-deficient bridges would have to be deferred for years," TDOT Commissioner Gerald Nicely said. "The bridges we rebuild today with this investment will serve the state for decades to come and provide a lasting benefit for future generations."

The 111 bridge projects selected for the first year of the bonding program are spread evenly across the three grand divisions of the state. One is a $20 million replacement of a 1936 bridge for State Route 33 (Maynardville Highway) in Union County. Other costly bridge projects are in Perry County where a bridge over the Buffalo River was built in 1952 and elsewhere for crossings built in 1931, 1932 and 1956.