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Bridge construction causes havoc

The many motorists traveling into Mountain City via State Highway 67 are enduring temporary lane closures and long waits as the state has ordered bridge “rehabilitation” near the intersection of Highway 67 and Highway 421, a major thoroughfare in Johnson County.
“Many of our customers have voiced frustration,” said Lois Dunn, owner of Lois’ Country Café, a business located directly in the middle of the ongoing project. “It has definitely affected our business.” Mountain City’s Rite Aid is also in upheaval as one of the entrances to the store has been temporarily closed along Highway 67.
Although the county transportation department has nothing to do with the project, Tony Jennings, Johnson County Road Superintendent, suggests motorists steer clear on the area as much as possible and offers some suggestions for detours. “The alternate route you want really depends on your destination,” he explains. “When traveling from Carter County or the Butler area, the best route would be to utilize Highway 167, by taking a right at Arnold’s Auto Sales.” Jennings suggests motorists travel Pleasant Valley Road when coming into town from Doe Valley. “To access this road, one would turn left onto Pleasant Valley Road, just past the old Dewey Christian Church.” According to Jennings this road comes out at the School Bus Garage onto Highway 421.
The project, which was let in August 2010, and awarded to Summers-Taylor of Elizabethton will cost approximately $660,000 with 80 percent being federally funded. The remaining 20 percent is to be paid by the State of Tennessee and none of the funds is part of the government’s stimulus package nor American Recovery and Reinvestment Act money.
According to Yvette Martinez, community relations officer for the Tennessee Department of Transportation, work on this contract consists of replacement of bridge beams and bridge deck with five foot sidewalks on the existing structure. “The project will require one lane traffic across the bridge controlled by a temporary traffic signal system as the work is performed in stages,” she reports.
Martinez relates the project is expected to be complete by October 31, 2011.