Friday, February 1, 2013

Tennessee River Bridge Construction – Part II

As reported back in August, the big change in this area of the Tennessee Valley is the huge construction project that will change several traffic patterns and improve the flow of vehicles as well as enhance public safety.  If you’d like to check the progress to date, first go to my original blog at

Here’s what this 1.71 mile long, $69,361,720.70 project looks like now…
Actually, this is the current bridge over the Tennessee River.  A total of 3 bridges will be built, but the main 4-lane span over the river itself will cross just a bit to the right of this photo.  It will replace the double lane bridge in the photo which, as you can see, passes directly over the Fort Loudon Dam.
This 2-lane bridge over the Tellico Canal will remain in place.  The footings under construction here are for the second 2 lane bridge that’s being built to run parallel to the existing one. 

The Tellico Canal connects Tellico Lake with Fort Loudoun Lake.  Both lakes represent the uppermost reaches of the commercially navigable portion of the Tennessee River.  The roadway using the bridges is US-321 which leads from I-75 and Lenoir City on the west, to Maryville, Townsend and the Smoky Mountains National Park.   
This view is the reverse of the previous photo.  It shows the beginnings of a roadbed being build-up for the second bridge span over the Tellico Canal.

I have no idea just how many high power lines and transmission towers have to be moved or removed in order to complete this project.  But, since the Ft. Loudoun Dam is a major source of electricity, I’m sure that the Tennessee Valley Authority’s portion of the project must be very significant…
Continuing back toward the west, the Tennessee River itself and Lenoir City, this is the build-up of the 4-lane road bed on the west side of the river.  This giant crane has been assembled to handle the heavy lifting required for bridge building.  This ‘island’ between the river and Tellico Lake with its connecting channel was mostly forested before construction began.

Somewhere along this portion of the new highway, an interchange will be built to tie US 321 into Loudon County Road 444 (also known as Tellico Parkway) and Tellico Village.  As there are frequent accidents at the current interchange, any new design will have to be an improvement.
Another giant crane has been assembled on the east side of the Tennessee River.  As you can see, the roadbed is beginning to take shape.  The existing roads lead to the Fort Loudoun Dam viewing areas, a city park, marinas, restaurants, a walkway for fishing and an outlet to homes south of the dam.  This will all change with the construction.
This is a reverse view from the previous photo.  This view toward Lenoir City shows additional major earthmoving efforts as the construction workers build up the new 4-lane roadbed. (Love that dark red clay!)
Currently, the access road to the marinas, restaurants and the city park loops to the south and then passes over US 321.  Apparently, the new plan is to use part of the old highway to access a major local church and the attractions as mentioned.  This photo shows the current US 321 2-lane highway looking toward Lenoir City.  This new ‘cut’ in the hillside will provide the roadbed for the new access road…
This final view is right at the intersection of US 321 and US 11 (Lee Highway), in Lenoir City.  We are looking east toward the river.  This is the westernmost end of this 1.71 mile long project.  What used to be a 2-lane highway surrounded by forest is now a large gash in the earth as the prep work for the new 4-lane roadway is finalized. 

The other large crane in the distance will probably be used in the construction of the 3rd bridge…the 4-lane replacement structure that will pass over the railroad tracks the pass under the roadway about where the traffic looks a bit bunched up off in the distance.
More to come in the future…as this project will not be completed until May of 2015!
Just click on any of the photos to enlarge them…
Thanks for stopping by and checking out this large employment project! 
Take Care, Big Daddy Dave


  1. I just wish they would build one more bridge taking 321 over 11 to deal with their malfunction junction.

  2. I remember once driving back from Columbus, OH I was so tired that we stopped in Lenoir City overnight. I was surprised at how much water there was – the river is quite large in that area. I hope this work will help circulation for people who live there.

  3. Spans this size always amaze me, Dave. It looks like your weather is as gray as ours :-). I hope your week is off to a good start. Have a great day. Blessings...Mary