Bridge work continues with no delaysBy Lesley Jenkins

Star Staff
ljenkins@starhq.com

Traffic in downtown Elizabethton has been rerouted since the closure of the Elk Avenue Bridge and the Covered Bridge on June 9 due to repairs and refurbishment. Progress is continuing on schedule as weather permits, according to David Ornduff, the city's director of planning and development.
The rehabilitation of the bridge is due to "time and wear and tear and use," said Ornduff. The bridge was originally built in 1926 by the Luten Bridge Company and contained lamp posts that were lit by gas. Those lamps will be recast and electricity will be used to light them now to add a historic touch.
Traffic has been moving off of Elk Avenue to Sycamore Street and Broad Street. Ornduff said he hasn't received any complaints from motorists about the detour.
Also, restoration of the historic covered bridge will begin toward the middle of next month. Ornduff is in the process of completing the environmental clearances, and bids for construction will be taken in about 3-4 weeks. The project will take about 60 days to complete.
The covered bridge will undergo a face lift to restore it to its original design, which will include replacing the anchor plates and interior lighting, and adding a new steel floor and painting the beams.
The covered bridge remains closed during construction on the Elk Avenue bridge because it was determined that the cracked steel floors would not be able to hold the extra traffic weight.
Originally Ornduff hoped that both bridges could be refurbished at the same time, and the hope has become reality.
Both bridges are predicted to be open to traffic on November 15.
A grant from the state's Department of Transportation provided the money to perform the work, along with funds from the city of Elizabethton, which matched 10 percent of the grant with $200,000. The match was included in the 2003 fiscal year budget.