published Saturday, August 17th, 2013

Replacement of Marion Memorial Bridge on U.S. Highway 41 stalls

Concrete supports jut from the Tennessee River for the Marion County bridge Friday near Guild, Tenn., but workers are not present because Britton Bridge is waiting for state approval for their steel erection plan.
Concrete supports jut from the Tennessee River for the Marion County bridge Friday near Guild, Tenn., but workers are not present because Britton Bridge is waiting for state approval for their steel erection plan.
Photo by Doug Strickland.

The U.S. Highway 41 bridge replacement project has stalled as the contractor waits for state approval of a steel erection plan, officials said.

"Basically it's a step-by-step plan of exactly how they plan to install the steel beams on the new bridge," Tennessee Department of Transportation spokeswoman Jennifer Flynn said. The new bridge replaces the 8-decade-old Marion Memorial Bridge alongside it.

The contractor didn't have approval by midweek "because there may be some changes that need to be made to the plan before it receives approval," Flynn said. "The project has gotten to the point that the contractor, Britton Bridge, cannot go further with the project until it receives approval on the steel erection plan."

The project began in 2011 and the original completion date was the end of this month, but that was pushed back to February 2014 after construction crews found voids and unsuitable material at the site of the new bridge's piers. The piers were set deeper when work resumed.

So far, Flynn said, the anticipated February 2014 completion date still stands. Construction officials and TDOT "structures and construction" officials began meeting Wednesday "to reach a resolution so we can get back on track," Flynn said.

"It depends on how quickly they work out a solution," she said. "The date could possibly be revised."

Britton Bridge spokesman John Van Mol said concerns mostly involve the plan for erecting the steel for the spans, and it could be several weeks before work resumes.

Van Mol said Britton Bridge officials have been holding meetings with TDOT personnel to resolve issues of safety standards and scheduling.

"Bottom line, obviously the work has stopped and Britton Bridge is hopeful of getting a response back on their latest submittal, and hopefully that will lead to a meeting where any final differences can be resolved," he said. Britton Bridge has employed a safety expert to help satisfy concerns.

Van Mol said once an agreement is reached on the erection plan it will likely take up to a month before work can resume, because the steel fabricated for the project must be delivered to the site in a certain order.

Contract staff writer Ben Benton at bbenton@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6569.

about Ben Benton...

Ben Benton is a news reporter at the Chattanooga Times Free Press. He covers Southeast Tennessee and previously covered North Georgia education. Ben has worked at the Times Free Press since November 2005, first covering Bledsoe and Sequatchie counties and later adding Marion, Grundy and other counties in the northern and western edges of the region to his coverage. He was born and raised in Cleveland, Tenn., a graduate of Bradley Central High School. Benton ...

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