As we have been reporting, on Tuesday, October 12th, the new Lewallen Bridge began carrying cars across the Clinch River in Clinton.
While two lanes are open in each direction on the new span, officials want to remind everyone that there is still plenty of work to do before the bridge can open to its full width. Currently, the temporary traffic layout does not include the eight-foot-wide buffer lane that will separate the north and southbound lanes or the four-foot-wide bike lanes that will travel in each direction. Under the temporary traffic configuration, northbound traffic has three options: a dedicated left-turn lane onto Highway 61, a middle lane carrying traffic into downtown Clinton on South Main Street, and a right turn lane onto Seivers Boulevard.
The permanent traffic plan has two exclusive left-turn lanes toward Oak Ridge, two straight-through lanes onto South Main Street, and one exclusive right-turn lane toward Norris.
Some of the work that remains to be done is the addition of an additional inch of asphalt topping on the transitions on to and off of the bridge deck itself, which officials say will improve the ride, particularly where the additional asphalt layer will smooth the transition between the concrete bridge deck and the asphalt approaches, where expansion joints are installed.
In addition, the street lighting on the new bridge will be operating soon, according to Project Coordinator Lynn Murphy, who adds that the bridge handrails are being painted green to match the street light poles.
When the bridge deck and approaches are ready for their full width to be utilized, new pavement markings and traffic control signs will be installed. In the meantime, the unused space on the new bridge will be used as a staging area for construction crews as they put the finishing touches on the almost $28 million bridge replacement project that began in September of 2018.
One sidewalk on the new bridge is now open and functional, Murphy says, and that is on the northbound side.