Fort Loudoun Dam Bridge lights still out

Hugh G. Willett


LENOIR CITY Reports that the lights on the Fort Loudoun Dam Bridge were working after being out of service for more than six months might have been a bit premature.

According to Tennessee Valley Authority spokesman Jim Hopson, attempts to fix the lights have been stymied by electrical shorts that can create a dangerous situation.

"We had some early success with some of the lights but they continue to short out," Hopson said.

The lights went out in June of last year, and TVA officials said the lights would not be turned back on because the work could cause delays in traffic and safety hazards. A new bridge now under construction nearby will be ready in 2016.

Last month TVA responded to requests from local officials to make further attempts to repair the lights because of concerns about poor visibility, especially during winter weather.

State Rep. Jimmy Matlock, R-Lenoir City, had been working for months to get the lights fixed. He said last week he was encouraged to hear reports that the lights were working intermittently.

Hopson said those efforts have not resulted in the proper repairs. One of the issues is safety. The shorts that were taking out the lights were also electrifying the light poles, he said.

"We have determined the solution we were using won't work," he said.

TVA crews are investigating other options but haven't come up with a plan that would result in a proper repair without shutting down at least one lane of the bridge, causing traffic delays and potential safety problems.

"We're trying to assess what else we can do," Hopson said.