State Senator Wants More Public Information On Our Bridges

By: Stephen McLamb
By: Stephen McLamb

Blount County (WVLT) - In the wake of the Minnesota bridge tragedy, the Tennessee Department of Transportation has posted bridges across the state on their website which are "structurally deficient."

One state senator says not enough information is given and is asking the governor and the head of TDOT to make bridge information more available on the Internet.

It's strong language, but Blount County has ten bridges on what the state calls it's "structurally deficient" list.

"Are they safe? Yes, they are safe. I don't want Blount County to get up in arms that they're traveling on something that's going to fall in with them," Blount County's road Superintendent Bill Dunlap said.

State transportation officials says any dangerous bridge would be closed and that structurally deficient means the bridge just needs some attention.

"Items that need to be in a maintenance program to go out to do some painting, to do some concrete bridge deck repair," TDOT spokesman Travis Brickey said.

TDOT has a list of structurally deficient bridges on it's website. In Blount county, the Nails Creek bridge is in need, but there are several over that waterway and only a number is assigned to it's location.

"That's an identification number that TDOT uses where it identifies where bridges are," Brickey said.

But knowing which bridge is the deficient one is what the public needs to know in one state legislator's mind. He's asking for an Internet report card on all deficient bridges, including what the problems are and when they'll be repaired.

"The people own the bridges. The taxpayers own the bridges, and we need a report of how we're doing in maintaining our bridges," Senator Raymond Finney said.

Brickey says they don't want to give out too much information because of Homeland Security and long report concerns, but says more information will be available soon.

"We're in the process of putting a summary of each bridge, whether they're deficient or not, on the website," Brickey said.

Dunlap says he will make available to Blount County residents the reports of their structurally deficient bridges. He says they've been replacing the county's 62 bridges since the 1980s.

Of the last ten listed as structurally deficient, Dunlap says they have contracts to replace seven of them.

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