By Brad Hicks
A crew from the Unicoi County Highway Department recently completed the replacement of a bridge damaged by time and the elements.
The Highway Department began and finished repairs to the bridge in the Bear Wallow Flats area, located off Rock Creek Road, on Wednesday, Oct. 19.
Unicoi County Superintendent of Roads Terry Haynes said the original metal bridge, constructed in 1977, was beginning to deteriorate due to its age and road salt finding its way onto the structure.
The metal was removed and replaced with prefabricated concrete Permatile blocks.
“This is a lifetime fix,” Haynes said. “It’ll never have to be done any more.”
The Unicoi County Commission in September authorized the Highway Department to proceed with the bridge replacement project. The department did not ask the Commission for any new money for the undertaking, as funding for the bridge repair will come from the Highway Department’s reserves.
Haynes said the concrete is Tennessee Department of Transportation-certified and is less costly than repairing the bridge with metal would have been.
“The metal on this bridge would cost you about $18,000 to $19,000, and that’s not counting the manpower putting it down. So I did everything today for about, probably, $26,000.”
The use of Highway Department employees also cut down on the costs, Haynes said. He said the project would have cost the county approximately $60,000 had it been contracted out.
And even though the structure is now repaired and drivable, the Highway Department’s work on the Bear Wallow Flats bridge is not done just yet.
“We’ll let it sit for like two or three weeks, settle down, and we’ll come back in here and we’ll resurface it all the way to the highway,” Haynes said.