- Associated Press - Tuesday, January 27, 2015

LENOIR CITY, Tenn. (AP) - Supporters of the Fort Loudoun Dam bridge in East Tennessee have mounted an effort to save it from demolition next year.

The Knoxville News Sentinel (https://bit.ly/1EoA4Ux) reports Republican state Rep. Jimmy Matlock of Lenoir City has joined some local officials in the initiative to preserve the 52-year-old span and its magnificent views for use by pedestrians and bicyclists.

“Every city in America wants to have what we already have - a beautiful walkway over a beautiful piece of God’s real estate,” Matlock said. “Every community today is talking about greenways and trailways and riding ways and things to draw people to it. We’ve got it in place and it’s here. Why not utilize what’s already present?”

The demolition is part of Tennessee Department of Transportation project that will widen U.S. Highway 321. As part of the $69 million project, three new bridges will be built in the area.

The Tennessee Valley Authority, which owns the bridge, said on Monday that there would be safety and liability concerns in preserving the bridge, even for foot traffic.

“We don’t typically put bridges directly over dams for a number of reasons, particularly in this post-9/11 world,” said TVA spokesman Jim Hopson said. “The logical thing is to proceed with the plan as it was originally discussed with (the Tennessee Department of Transportation). From a bigger perspective, it’s a liability and a cost issue.”

Besides losing a way to connect greenways, Loudon County Visitor’s Bureau Director Clayton Pangle says it would mean losing the “million-dollar views” of Fort Loudoun Lake with the Smoky Mountains in the backdrop.

“The bridge is going to come down as part of the phase of building the new bridge, and if there’s not a serious conversation … to look at the real feasibility of preserving this bridge, then there won’t be a bridge,” Pangle said.

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Information from: Knoxville News Sentinel, https://www.knoxnews.com


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