JASPER, Tenn. (AP) — Tennessee Department of Transportation has opened a new bridge over the Tennessee River at U.S. Highway 41, more than a year later than expected.
The Chattanooga Times Free Press reports (http://bit.ly/13W8uOV) the $21.5 million span replaces one built in 1929 and closed in 2012.
The new bridge was originally supposed to be complete in August 2013, but problems with rock beneath the river near the piers added more than a year of additional work. The problem also forced the closure of the existing bridge, which planners originally wanted to keep open until the new bridge was complete.
TDOT Commissioner John Schroer was at the opening ceremonies on Friday. He said Highway 41 is an important route for the region that is often used as an alternate to Interstate 24.
Linda Castle owns the Anchor Inn Bait & Tackle store at one end of the bridge. When the old bridge closed, it cut off her store in the Haletown community from the Marion County Park campground on the other side of the river.
“I am absolutely excited,” Castle said Friday. “I hope (customers) remember us and come back.”
Castle said she plans to advertise the renewed link across the river and her new lunch counter so campers and anglers will know there is a place near the water to eat and buy supplies.
“I’m still here, people, I’m still here,” she said. “I survived the storm.”