East Tennessee bridges on ‘structurally deficient’ list

KNOXVILLE (WATE) – Several East Tennessee bridges are said to be structurally deficient in a new report by the American Road & Transportation Builders Association.

When you’re driving, do you ever worry how safe an underpass is?

“That’s not something that crosses your mind a lot whenever you’re driving across or under bridges,” said Jonathan Coppeneger from Kodak.

The Tennessee Department of Transportation is responsible for inspecting bridges and crews look closely at every aspect from the deck, to the beams, even the hardware.

“If any of those categories are deemed poor, than the entire bridge itself will be deemed structurally deficient,” said TDOT spokesperson Mark Nagi.

Inspection crews take pictures throughout the process and include them in their report.

Previous story: Report: More than 998 Tennessee bridges structurally deficient

“We inspect bridges every two years, but if a bridge is structurally deficient, then that’s a bridge we’ll inspect every year,” added Nagi.

TDOT says if a bridge is deficient, it is a good candidate to be replaced.

“Is it something that has to be taken care of now? Or is this going to be put into future plans to fix,” asked Coppeneger.

The Sutherland Avenue bridge was was being repaired when WATE 6 On Your Side drove by.

“I think sometimes there’s a misconception out there that it means the bridge is dangerous. That is not the case whatsoever. If a bridge is deemed deficient, it can still be driven over. We won’t allow any roadway, any bridge, to be open if we feel it presents a danger to the motoring public,” said Nagi.

While the list may be worrisome, Nagi says you can always alert TDOT about issues with a bridge.

Nagi says the Jackson Avenue bridges fall under Gov. Haslam’s Improve Act, it’s estimated to cost more than $5 million, though there’s no timeline.

If the Improve Act is passed, all 962 projects will be complete, under construction, or under contract in the next 12 to 13 years.

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