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Bridge construction expected to run through November; Expect longer delays as students return to school

Posted on Sunday, July 24, 2016 at 9:00 am

Bridge construction on state Route 55 near Goodbranch Rd. is expected to last through November according to officials with the Tennessee Department of Transportation. (MCN Photo by Robert Holman)

Bridge construction on state Route 55 near Goodbranch Rd. is expected to last through November according to officials with the Tennessee Department of Transportation. (MCN Photo by Robert Holman)

LYNCHBURG, Tenn. — Anyone traveling on state Route 55 through Lynchburg north toward Tullahoma should prepare for lengthy delays as the start of the new school year approaches.

Tennessee Department of Transportation (TDOT) officials confirmed this week that the bridgework currently underway near Goodbranch Rd. close to Moore County High School and the Lynchburg Nursing Center isn’t expected to be complete until late November.

That means early morning commuters heading to the high school from the Lynchburg side of the bridge — which has been one lane since the project began three weeks ago — should plan their morning accordingly and allow a little extra time.

And with school traffic set to pick back up on Aug. 1, anyone coming into Lynchburg from the Tullahoma side of the bridge should be prepared as well.

With TDOT officials setting a completion date of Nov. 30, the project will also impede traffic during the 28th annual Jack Daniel’s World Championship Barbecue, which is set for Oct. 22.

“This is a bridge repair project that includes deck replacement, substructure repairs and beam replacement,” said TDOT Community Relations Officer Kathryn Schulte. “The contractor is currently performing demolition work and should be done with that in a few days.

“Then the contractor will start the repairs and construction on the substructure. Beam replacement is tentatively scheduled in the beginning of August. The bridge traffic will be reduced to one lane throughout the project.”

The construction could potentially back up traffic on both Nursing Home Rd. on the west side and Goodbranch Rd. on the east side. Along with the traffic signals on Hwy. 55, traffic lights have been placed at both Nursing Home Rd. and Goodbranch Rd. as well.

It is possible to avoid the bridgework altogether by turning onto Motlow Barn Rd. and bypassing the construction. Anyone doing so is urged to drive with caution on Motlow Barn Rd., as it will likely see an increase in traffic over the next four months. Motlow Barn Rd. is also frequently used by both walkers and runners as well.

TDOT has contracted the $569,547.50 project to Mt. Juliet-based Jones Bros., Inc.

TDOT contracts with Jones Brothers and affiliated companies have totaled $370 million since 2008 according to a March 24, 2015 story in The Tennessean which named Jones Bros., Inc., and two of its affiliates — Mountain States Contractors and Hot Mix Asphalt — in a Federal investigation for attempting to “fraudulently land government contracts intended for companies that promise to subcontract a certain percentage of the work to women- or minority-owned small businesses.”

At that time, TDOT spokesperson B.J. Doughty told The Tennessean that the department was made aware of the federal inquiry by the federal Office of Inspector General and said the department could not speak to the “breadth of the investigation,” and acknowledged that Jones Brothers companies continued to land state contracts.

“If they go through (the legal) process and are convicted of something, then we can permanently disbar them,” Doughty said. “But as far as just being under investigation, I don’t think we have a legal standing to say, ‘OK, you can’t bid on contracts.’”

Jones Brothers is a family-owned business founded in 1946.

The $569,547.50 project is a state-funded repair project. The bridge crosses a small contributory stream to the East Fork Mulberry Creek.

—By ROBERT HOLMAN, Publisher (mcnpub@lcs.net)

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