NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Upon further evaluation and testing of the Cordell Hull Bridge in Smith County, the Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT) has concluded what appeared to be a crack is simply corrosion of the steel. This minimal amount of deterioration is not a structural concern and will make minor repairs. The bridge has been deemed safe under its current weight limit of 28 tons.
“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.”
This bridge was built circa 1934 out of steel contemporary with the times and as such is somewhat more prone to corrosion than modern steel. After the removal of the paint, it was noted that water was getting trapped leading to corrosion of the structural steel. TDOT is directing the contractor to do some remedial grinding of the deteriorated area to smooth the sharp edges so it will take the paint system effectively and limit the possibility of trapping moisture in the future.
The remaining inspection work should be completed by Monday, June 20, 2022, and the base coat primer on the bridge shortly thereafter. The final top-coat paint will be applied as soon as it is available. TDOT will open the bridge 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 apply the final top-coat paint system.
Drivers should continue to utilize Upper Ferry Road or U.S. Hwy 70N to the SR 25 Bypass bridge as an alternate route.
“Safety is our top priority and we will always act out of an abundance of caution,” said TDOT Commissioner Butch Eley. “We have a robust bridge inspection program that includes 20,026 bridges inspected every 2 years to ensure we find any potential problems. We are glad this was a minor issue identified by the current process that could be fixed quickly.”