Sputhside Bridge

Motorists were able to use the new bridge on Southside Road after it opened on Thursday.

ELIZABETHTON — It has been just a little more than a year since the old bridge on Southside Road at Gap Creek was closed and the neighborhood can now stop using detours. The new replacement bridge is open.

“People who were driving by and saw we were opening it were happy,” Danny Hilbert, director of Elizabethton’s Street and Sanitation Department, said.

He said the new bridge was a project of the Tennessee Department of Transportation and the principal contractor was Whaley Construction of Sevierville. The winning bid was $432,842.35.

Hilbert said the Southside Bridge project and a bridge on the west side of the city, the Reeser Bridge project, were included by TDOT into the state’s IMPROVE Act of 2017 and the High Priority Bridge Replacement Program. Under these measures, TDOT funds 100% of the project, requiring no local matching funds.

Hilbert said the only money the city spent on the new bridge was in painting the traffic lanes.

The 33-foot-long bridge replaces one built in 1939 and there was no question of its need to be replaced. It was examined by TDOT inspectors on Aug. 20, 2019, who reported severe corrosion and flaking on girders. After TDOT conferred with city officials, the old bridge was closed in early October 2019.

Hilbert said the new bridge is a little wider than the earlier bridge, providing more space for sports utility vehicles and bigger pickup trucks.

Hilbert said the next project up is the Reeser Bridge. It was built in 1960 and it will also be a project that is completely funded by TDOT.