Bridge revision expected to begin in spring 2005

  By Rozella Hardin
star staff
rhardin@starhq.com
  Plans have been finalized for the refurbishing of the Broad Street Bridge, and the contract is expected to be let as early as February 2005, according to John Pearcy, local representative with the Tennessee Department of Transportation.
  Pearcy, who along with other Tennessee Department of Transportation officials met with City staff this past week, said it will take about a month to get the paperwork done once the contract is let, and the actual work could begin by spring. "Since it is a high volume traffic area, I suspect that would be incentive enough to get the work done fast -- certainly a shorter time than it took to refurbish the Elk Avenue Bridge," he said.
  Both the Broad Street and Elk Avenue Bridges, designed and constructed by the Luten Bridge Company, were built with style, featuring horseshoe arches and elaborate railings with urn-shaped spindles and lamp posts in the shape of Ionic columns.
  The State Department of Transportation made the decision to refurbish the Broad Street Bridge once the Elk Avenue Bridge work was completed. Like the Elk Avenue Bridge, the concrete in the deck, arches, abutments and piers will be repaired with modern concrete. Also, the decorative urn bridge railings will be restored, as will the original concrete lamp posts.
  Pearcy said the existing modern aluminum lights will be removed from the bridge and the lamps' gas lights will be replaced with electrical lights. Also, a concrete safety rail will be installed between the sidewalk and traffic routes.
  "It is a very beautiful bridge, and I think worth preserving, because of its impressive engineering and architecture," said Pearcy.
  Both the Elk Avenue and Broad Street Bridges were among the patented designs of Daniel Luten, who began building reinforced concrete bridges in 1899. He was one of America's foremost builders and promoters of reinforced concrete arch bridges in the early 20th century. The Luten arches were innovative, and were termed Luten arches or horseshoe arches because of their distinctive profile.
  Pearcy said the bridge will remain open to traffic while the repair work is being done. "Two of the four lanes will remain open at all times," he said.
  Also, City Manager Charles Stahl said that while the bridge work is being done, the City plans to rebuild the Doe River Mill Race which runs under the bridge. "The Mill Race has collapsed, and will require re-building," he said.
  Stahl said there are also plans to build a walkway under the bridge, which will connect Race Street to city-owned property located on Riverside Drive, adjacent to the bridge. "We have had some complaints from some of our seniors about the hazards of crossing Broad Street. A walkway under the bridge will make it safer for people who live in that section of town to cross Broad Street," he said.
  The City Manager said the city owns property on Race Street up to the bridge. "We can easily extend Race Street to the bridge and build a walkway under the bridge and on the south side that will then cross the Mill Race onto Riverside Drive. It will also necessitate extending the sidewalk further north on Riverside Drive," he said.
  The area would be patrolled by the City Police's bike control, which also patrols other walking and bike trails in the City.