Unitia Road open

Tammy Cheek-News-Herald

After a yearlong wait, a much improved Unitia Road in Greenback is open for business.

Loudon County Road Department and Tennessee Department of Transportation representatives, and Loudon County Commissioner Bob Franke conducted the final walk-through of the bridge on Unitia Road Friday morning.

"They did a bang-up job," John Boling, general foreman for the county highway department said, noting the construction crew widened the bridge by six feet.

Loudon County Road Superintendent Eddie Simpson said a structural engineer still must inspect underneath the bridge, but area residents will find the sign signifying the road is closed has been removed.

"I think they did a wonderful job. I think it's great," Franke said. "It's great for the area. They needed that (new bridge) for years. It makes it safer for school buses and everybody.

"I'm just glad we could do it for the citizens," he said. "It was sorely needed for quite a long time."

Unitia Road has been closed for more than a year in anticipation of the new bridge over Cloyd Creek, Simpson said.

The bridge was built in the 1940s, when the Fort Loudoun Lake was put in, Franke said. "It was so narrow you couldn't pass," he said, adding that the bridge was essentially one lane. "You had to stop to let people through."

Franke said the county started more than six years ago trying to get funding to replace the bridge.

Simpson said the funding was a shared effort between the county and the state, with the state paying 80 percent. Franke said the county paid about $56,000 of the cost.

Simpson said the total project cost about $800,000. Blalock Companies won the contractor bid while Bill Canton Construction won the grading bid. The project was bid Dec. 10, 2010, and work was supposed to be completed by Oct. 31.

With Unitia Road Bridge under the county's belt, it still has the bridge on Simpson Road to complete. No other bridges are scheduled until 2014.