SMITH COUNTY, Tenn. (WKRN) – After being closed for inspection, the Cordell Hull Bridge in Smith County could reopen as soon as next week.
The Tennessee Department of Transportation says what appeared to be a crack in the bridge is just the steel going through corrosion. The deterioration is minimal and not a structural concern, only needing minor repairs. The bridge has been deemed safe under its current weight limit of 28 tons.
The bridge was built circa 1934 out of steel from that time, and as such is somewhat more prone to corrosion than modern steel, according to TDOT. After paint was removed, crews discovered water was getting trapped leading to corrosion.
TDOT says they’ve asked the contractor to do some remedial grinding of the deteriorated area to smooth out the sharp edges so it can take the paint system effectively and limit the possibility of trapped moisture in the future.
“One of the first signs of fatigue in a bridge is rust or cracks in the paint,” said TDOT Chief Engineer Paul Degges. “When crews spotted the deterioration in the paint during a routine inspection, they knew we needed to take a closer look.”
TDOT says the remaining inspection work should be completed by Monday, June 20. The base coat primer of the bridge should be completed shortly after, while the final top-coat of paint will be added once it is available.
The bridge will be open to traffic once the inspection work is completed and at least the base primer is applied, which could be as soon as Wednesday. Another short term closure will be required to add the final top-coat paint system.
Drivers should continue using Upper Ferry Road or U.S. Hwy 70N to the SR 25 Bypass bridge as an alternate route.