Mid-State Construction fined $70,000 for tardiness on East Commerce Street bridge project
By Scott Pearson
It's getting hard to remember that there was ever a bridge over Rock Creek on East Commerce Street.
Reconstruction of the state highway bridge has gone months past the original September 30 completion date.
Talking to workers on the bridge Tuesday morning, they estimated two more weeks of work but no more than another month for completion.
That time frame would put the project at a year to complete.
The bridge was originally scheduled to close on Feb. 4, 2016, but, in a sign of things to come, the closure was delayed until the 11th.
Work was progressing until the contractor, Mid-State Construction, pulled crews off of the project, reportedly to work on another, larger project with a larger daily fine for missing the completion deadline.
Under the contract terms, the contractor has paid $740 per day since the original deadline in fines to the Tennessee Department of Transportation. As of press time today the total had climbed to $70,300.
"I'm as frustrated by this bridge situation as anyone," said Lewisburg Mayor Jim Bingham.
One positive to come out of this saga is the possible replacement of the city maintained East Church Street bridge.
That bridge has been serving as the primary detour over Rock Creek while East Commerce has been closed.
The condition of the East Church bridge was not rated highly by inspectors even before the increased traffic caused by the detour.
All city and county bridges are inspected and scored by condition every two years.
The increased wear and tear on the structure, reportedly rated at nine or ten tons of capacity to begin with, has only hastened the need to repair or replace that structure.
TDOT has offered to perform a study of the bridge for inclusion in a federally funded infrastructure project aimed at bridges outside of major routes.
While exact details are not yet clear, the need to act regarding the bridge is certain.
"The (East Church Street) bridge must be addressed," Bingham said.
The city has submitted potential plans of features that they would like to see incorporated in the design.
One possibility being explored is rebuilding the bridge in a way that would allow the Rock Creek Greenway Trail to pass under the roadway like it does at the East Commerce bridge.
Another would be railings that would match those on the pedestrian bridge in Rock Creek and those on the East Commerce Bridge once it is complete.
The end of one bridge project, as delayed as it has been, is finally in sight and city streets can return to normal, at least until the next one starts.