Funds could become available to replace Sligo bridge if the Congress approves a new economic stimulus package.
County Mayor Mike Foster said Thursday that TDOT has included Sligo bridge in it's request for funding of projects in Tennessee. "Mr (Paul) Degges, who is the chief engineer for TDOT, said at a recent public meeting that Sligo was not on the list of roads and bridges that would be proposed for the stimulus package. But we were told about two weeks ago by TDOT that it is now on the list for the proposed stimulus package, if it happens. Senator (Lamar) Alexander's office called and said that it (Sligo bridge) is on the stimulus package list that has been submitted by TDOT for the state. So if the stimulus package passes the U.S. House and Senate, then hopefully we are in line for a replacement bridge, which would be just north of the existing bridge. If you're going toward Sparta, the new bridge would be on the left side of the old bridge and the road on either side of the bridge would be straightened for better access. If all this happens, they would probably have meetings here in March for a pre-bid letting, and possibly be on line for contracts to be let in July and maybe the bridge could be started in September, which is really good news for tourism, school buses, and people who travel back and forth through there to go to work."
Degges, during a public meeting last month, said it would cost about $32 million to replace Sligo bridge at today's estimates, while a rehab would be about $12 million and extend the life of the bridge by 10 to 15 years. "From a time frame standpoint, between two and four years from now this bridge is going to be in a condition to where we're going to have to replace the bridge or do a rehab on it."
"If we were able to find the funding for this project, I could see us under contract in maybe fifteen months or less if we were going to go with the new bridge. If the money doesn't materialize somewhere, I would guess somewhere between two and four years from now we would be looking at a rehabilitation project on the existing bridge."