East Tennesseans Talk About Knoxville's Bridges

By: Allison Hunt
By: Allison Hunt

Knoxville (WVLT) - Now if you travel across one of those 5 bridges receiving a poor rating, the question is should you be concerned?

As Volunteer TV's Allison Hunt reports, these bridges help us all get to and from where we're going, and she talked with some folks who drive across some of the bridges multiple times everyday.

That's what's making some of those drivers Allison spoke with feel so uneasy, despite the fact officials with TDOT and engineers with the city of Knoxville say bridges in our area are safe.

Almost a thousand miles away, the Minneapolis bridge collapse has Poinsettia Byrd thinking about Knoxville.

"I started thinking about how much water was here and how many bridges are here, and I thought about all the people I know that live someplace where they cross a bridge everyday to go home, because they live near the water, so it certainly hit home with me," Byrd said.

And she'll never think of this bridge on Northshore Drive over Ft. Loudon lake she's crossed for 20 years the same.

"I'm probably gonna look at it very closely, and I'm probably gonna hurry across it," Byrd said.

Of more than 100 bridges in Knox County, it's one of five currently rated "poor," but that doesn't mean it will collapse.

"If the people who make the decision deemed that it was safe to leave it open for traffic, then I wouldn't worry about it too much," UT civil engineering professor Edwin Burdette said.

And all five are open, so "poor" could mean:

"Perhaps either thinking about renovating, repairing or replacing it or something like that, it's a red flag," Burdette said.

Three of the five are relatively small, but Mascot Pike over Holston River and the Northshore Bridge are big and over water.

"When you get to the bigger bridges, I think that's where most people become aware of the possibility of something going wrong," driver Richard O'Brien said.

The Northshore bridge is under construction, which makes Poinsettia feel safe.

"It's old, it's deteriorating and good to see that they're building a new bridge right next to it," Byrd said.

But now, every time she crosses a bridge, she'll think a little differently.

"It's just a shock to think that it could happen, and it's scary," Byrd said.

Officials with Knox County's Engineering and Public Works say they hope all five of the bridges will go from "poor" to "fair" or "good" within the next year.


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