Work on $12.6 million 'signature' Ocoee gateway bridge project in Polk County starts this week

Photo contributed by the Tennessee Department of Transportation / The U.S. Highway 64 bridge replacement project location and project limits are shown in this TDOT aerial map of the area. The project is slated for completion May 30, 2022.

In a couple of years, travelers headed east on U.S. Highway 64 in Polk County, Tennessee, will get their first glimpse of the world-renowned Ocoee River from a new $12.6 million "signature bridge" that will create an official entry into all the Cherokee National Forest and Ocoee River Gorge have to offer.

"The project is a signature bridge that is meant to be a gateway to the Ocoee region," Tennessee Department of Transportation spokesperson Jennifer Flynn said.

The design-build team for the project consists of contractor Charles Blalock and Sons Inc. and designer Volkert, Inc., Flynn said Tuesday.

The new bridge is scheduled for completion by May 20, 2022, with a price tag of $12.6 million, according to TDOT.

For a driver, it's easy to miss the Ocoee River flowing beneath the current Highway 64 bridge a couple of miles west of the Cherokee National Forest.