There’s a glimmer of hope for the bridge in Rock Island State Park. After being closed for years, Tennessee Valley Authority officials are reviewing the safety concerns of reopening it.
“We are working to resolve the public access and security issues,” said TVA spokeswoman Barbara Martocci. “Nothing is definite yet on what TVA will do or when.”
According to Martocci, the Great Falls plant manager met with several TVA personnel from various departments to walk down the dam and bridge to look for opportunities for safety improvements for both plant personnel and the public, as well as security options.
The group, which included individuals from TVA’s police, homeland security, facilities management, government and valley relations, and river operations engineering support services, discovered three safety/ security options to be considered, says Martocci.
“We developed three safety/ security options for executive management to consider,” she said. “Then, we will identify the internal funding source and follow our project process to initiate and begin the project.”
When questioned about the three options under consideration, Martocci added, “The options include things such as raising hand rails on the bridge to meet safety standards and other safety improvements, as well as detailed security measures that we don’t discuss. I don’t have any more information on the options than that.”
The bridge in Rock Island State Park closed for repairs in 2009 for two years of repairs and improvements. Access to the bridge was then blocked with a locked, chain-link fence. TVA then announced the area would stay closed to the public indefinitely.
What TVA officials may be considering is a way to protect motorists or pedestrians from energized equipment located near the road next to the bridge. In a prior interview with the Southern Standard, TVA spokesman Travis Brickey pointed to that as the reason for its closure.
“There is energized equipment near the road so the decision was made to close the dam for public safety,” he said. “The energized equipment is in close proximity to the roadway and is even more of a concern for pedestrians. It will not open as a walkway.”
The area was a popular spot for park visitors because of its spectacular view of the gorge.