The effort to replace a bridge on Old Shelbyville Road is progressing and work could begin in 2017.
During a county Highway and Bridge Committee meeting Tuesday, Road Superintendent Levie Glenn gave an update to members Gary Prater, chair, Randy England, Gary Martin, David Rhea and Blaine Wilcher.
“We’ve got people working with the negotiations,” said Glenn. “We may be able to work with one of the landowners, but the other one, we just don’t know yet.”
Warren County began working with property owners in that area more than three years ago. Because communication was an issue with at least one property owner and the condition of the bridge is deteriorating, Warren County government approved a measure in April 2016 to take the property by eminent domain if negotiations fail.
The decision was made after Warren County Highway Department engineer Kyle Hazel informed the county it needed to step in.
“The bridge on Old Shelbyville Road, no doubt, is one of the most critical structures needing to be replaced in the Warren County bridge inventory,” said Hazel. “TDOT has a bridge grant program. It provides funding to replace structures like this with a minimal amount of matching now by the counties. It’s a great way to finance your bridge projects.”
The grant does require acquisition of land by the county.
Hazel said two of the three affected property owners signed the necessary paperwork but one will only give a verbal agreement.
Without a signed contract, the only way to replace the bridge is to begin condemnation efforts. That effort requires hiring state-approved appraisers, hiring individuals for negotiations, and following all the legal guidelines for eminent domain.
The condition of the bridge requires it to be replaced, said Hazel, and until the county replaces it, the county will not be considered for another state bridge grant because those grants are given by priority and this bridge is currently at the top of the state’s bridge replacement list in Warren County.
If the bridge is not replaced, it could be closed by the state.
“TDOT will eventually close this bridge due to its condition and then you are stuck,” said Hazel. “In my opinion, there is no need in allowing this one individual to keep the thousands of cars that use that roadway from receiving a structure that is safe.”
The bridge is located close to the Coffee County line. During construction of the new bridge, the old one will remain open.