Historic Kyles Ford Bridge to Remain Open
Monday, November 21, 2011 | 03:39am
KNOXVILLE, TN – The Tennessee Department of Transportation has initiated a new plan to replace the aging Kyles Ford Bridge over the Clinch River on State Route 70 in Hancock County with a new bridge. The decision follows discussions with various agencies, state and Hancock County officials, and the public. The existing bridge will remain open during construction of the new bridge.
“We’ve listened to the concerns of local citizens in Hancock County and neighboring Hawkins County, and believe that this is the best solution for those that travel across the Kyles Ford Bridge,” said TDOT Commissioner John Schroer.
Over the past two weeks, TDOT officials have had discussions with representatives from U.S. Fish & Wildlife, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the Tennessee Wildlife Resources Agency, the Tennessee Valley Authority, The Nature Conservancy, as well as local, state, and federal officials.
As part of this process, there will be a repair project that will get underway in the summer of 2012 to ensure the existing bridge remains functional as the new bridge is constructed. While the repair project will require an approximate six week closure of the Kyles Ford Bridge, it will allow TDOT to increase the current weight restrictions on the bridge from five tons to ten tons.
"Building a new bridge in Kyles Ford is the right thing to do - for the people of Hancock County, for the environment, for the best use of state tax dollars,” said Senator Mike Faulk. “Listening and rolling up their sleeves to find a solution, many in local, state and federal government are to be commended for the quick resolution of this dilemma."
"We are extremely pleased that this project will move forward," said Representative Mike Harrison. "This bridge is a major connection point within Hancock County. The action to build a new bridge will enable our citizens to avoid extremely long delays in drive time to get across this river, accommodating school buses and emergency vehicles."
U.S. Representative Phil Roe has also worked very closely with TDOT and local officials to reach a decision that would lessen the impacts on residents and travelers in Hancock County.
"On behalf of Hancock County and the Kyles Ford community, we are very grateful that our needs were heard and answered with the new bridge to be built over the Clinch River," said Hancock County Mayor Thomas Harrison.
The historic Kyles Ford Bridge was built by the State Highway Department starting in 1927 as part of the special toll bridge program. It is one of only three of those bridges still existing in the state.
The new bridge, which will include two twelve foot travel lanes and shoulders, is expected to be under contract by the end of 2012.