TDOT May Not Close Sligo Bridge

May 7, 2008
Dwayne Page

There's good news about Sligo Bridge.

County Mayor Mike Foster says state officials have given him assurances that the bridge will not be closed over a period of months during future construction to repair or replace it.

Foster says he and other local concerned public officials and citizens have been in meetings this week with state lawmakers and TDOT Commissioner Gerald Nicely to discuss the problem. "James Hale, who lives at Riverwatch, Road Supervisor Kenny Edge, State Representative Frank Buck, and I met with TDOT Commissioner Gerald Nicely, Speaker of the House Jimmy Naifeh and six other State Representatives Monday afternoon and Monday night. Of course, TDOT'S original proposal was to close Sligo Bridge for 12 to 18 months sometime in the future but as of Monday, they told us that they will not close the bridge. They're going to try to do it (work) with one lane (open). In an absolute worst case scenario, they might have to close the bridge for six weeks for some steel repair."

Foster says state matching funds may also be available if federal money can be obtained for the project. " During our meetings, it actually came out that the state had the money to match if we come up with the federal money to build the new bridge along with the ramps or road access to either side of the bridge to correct those dangerous spots there."

If the bridge were to close, Foster says it would have a major impact on travel in that area. "If it's safe, maybe they will leave the bridge until we can find out about that (federal) money and not impact commuters and those stores in that area. We estimated that there's 520 people that come from that area over here, or here to over there, to work."

In addition to Representative Buck, Road Supervisor Edge, and James Hale, Foster says he wants to thank several others who have been involved in this effort. "We have done a lot of background work and collected a lot of information which we provided to the state. I want to thank several people, including Richard Gravely, who used to work for TDOT, Randy Caplinger, one of the county commissioners who also works at one of the local factories, State Representative's Gary Odom and Phillip Pinion, State Senator Mae Beavers, Congressman Bart Gordon, and U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander for their concern."

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