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Memorial bridge won't include victims' names
County - Brad Hillis.jpg
Hillis

A memorial bridge on Highway 8 honoring lives lost to motor vehicle accidents will be without names.

Highway 8 is a state route. Matt Barnes, assistant bureau chief of Legislative Communications with the Tennessee Department of Transportation, has discouraged the county from what has been under consideration for two years: listing names of the individuals who died on the highway. 

At this time, the county Highway and Bridge Committee has received requests that six persons be included. Among those would be two brothers and their friend who died together in a June 1980 motor vehicle collision, as well as a 17-year old who died in September 1980. 

“I’ve received phone calls from families who also want their loved one included,” said County Commissioner Brad Hillis. “I’m counting six so far. That’s a lot of names, so I reached out to TDOT just to see if they had any hesitation on this. It’s a state route. The final decision will be up to the state and not us.” 

Hillis presented a correspondence from Barnes:

“We have had bridges that have had more than one name – I think three was the max but not six. After three names, drivers really don’t have time to read all the names and it became a safety problem if drivers slow down to read all the names.”

Barnes also stated, “Most highways or bridges are named for persons who have contributed to the community like soldiers, law enforcement killed in action, or community leaders. Naming highways or bridges after persons killed is a bit problematic in that there are just not enough bridges so where do you draw the line once you start?”

Barnes suggested the county use Broken Halo Memorial Bridge as a way to honor the lives lost, without listing six names. 

“If we send this proposal to the state and they reject it because it has too many names, who’s going to pick three of the six? I don’t want to be the one to do that. I don’t think anyone would,” said Hillis. 

Commissioner Gary Prater agreed. 

“I think we should go with the state’s recommendation on this,” said Prater. 

The county Highway and Bridge Committee unanimously agreed to recommend to the full Warren County Commission that the bridge on Highway 8 at the foot of Harrison Ferry Mountain be named “Broken Halo Bridge” in honor of the lives lost, without listing names. 

If approved by the full County Commission, a resolution will be sent to the Tennessee General Assembly for its consideration in 2022.