Knox Co. Bridges Rated Poor by TDOT

By: Brian Gregory Email
By: Brian Gregory Email

Knoxville (WVLT) - Five Knox County bridges you may drive on everyday have been ranked "poor" by the Tennessee Department of Transportation.

One of the largest, takes you over a section of the Holston River.

Volunteer TV’s Jim Freeman has a list of those bridges rated poor, and takes a look at what exactly that rating means.

Before Wednesday's bridge tragedy, most of us never gave a second thought before we crossed a bridge.

That's not the case today.

Of the more than 100 bridges in Knox County, five are currently rated as "poor" by TDOT.

Those bridges are on Northshore Drive over Fort Loudon Lake, Conner Road over Bull Run Creek, Washington Pike over Little Flat Creek, Maloney Road over Flemmiken Branch, and Mascot Pike over Holston River.

Should we be concerned?

"In terms of level of safety in terms of the potential risk to a driver is just extremely small,” says Dr. Edwin Burdette, a professor of civil engineering at the University of Tennessee.

So what exactly is a poor rating?

"That doesn't mean that the bridge is going to fall down or anything like that,” says Jim Snowden, Knox County Deputy Director of Engineering and Public Works. “It just means that the bridge does have deficiencies that we need to address within a reasonable time frame.”

Jim Snowden adds that bridge inspections are very in depth ranging from checking the usual, the substructure, which is below the deck, and the deck itself, which is called the superstructure, as well as the general roadway approaches.

"Does it have a guard rail? Does it have the necessary signage? Is there curvature coming into the bridge? There's a lot of factors that go into it,” Snowden says.

And about those five Knox County bridges that are rated poor. What's being done to improve their safety?

A new bridge is being built on Northshore. A contract to repair the bridge on Conner Road is pending. The other three bridges continue being checked to determine what work needs to be done next.

But how long is all of this going to take?

"All of ours within the next year, hopefully, will go from a poor rating all the way up to fair or good,” Snowden says.

To read the inspection reports for these five bridges, see the links below.

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