The Tennessee Department of Transportation is expected to accept bids and award a contract on the replacement of Sligo bridge sometime this year, possibly this fall.
The Sligo bridge replacement is among the projects to be funded in the 2011-12 state budget under TDOT's Better Bridge bonding program. The estimated cost is $30 million dollars.
The new Sligo bridge is expected to be erected some sixty feet to the north of the existing bridge and plans are for traffic to continue on the old bridge while the new structure is under construction. Right of way acquisition with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and any other adjoining landowners must also be resolved.
TDOT officials have said that Sligo bridge remains safe to travel as long as motorists adhere to the posted weight limits and that the chunks of concrete falling into nets hung underneath the bridge should not be of great concern.
During a November, 2009 public meeting in Smithville, Ed Wasserman, TDOT Director of Structures, addressed the safety issue regarding Sligo bridge. According to Wasserman, there are at least two layers of concrete on the bridge and the layer underneath is breaking up. "Specifically with regard to the Sligo bridge, it is safe as long as you observe the posted loads that are on that bridge. Your concerns about the chunks of concrete coming off ( from under the bridge). That is more of an emotional issue than a structural issue. They way that slab works is that it is the re-enforcing steel in the bottom that carries the load. The concrete on the top carries the compression load, the bottom is the tension steel. That steel is all intact. The primary purpose for the cover on the bottom is to protect the steel. The steel is still in good shape. It would be more desirable if it (concrete) was all there but the point of it is it carries the same load with or without it. The bridge is still safe. We're still monitoring the bridge on a frequency of about every six months. So the bridge is safe as it is. The netting up there (under the bridge) is because we don't want concrete chunks falling on the boaters or whoever else is underneath the bridge."