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TDOT suspends work on Henley Bridge after 2nd worker is killed

6:52 PM, May 25, 2011   |    comments
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The Knoxville Police Department has now released the name of the construction worker who was killed Tuesday when a concrete rock fell from the Henley Bridge.

Solin Estrada Jimenez, 50, of Chattanooga, was working on a barge beneath the bridge when the rock hit him in the head.

Jiminez worked for Britton Bridge, LLC, the company contracted by the Tennessee Department of Transportation to renovate the bridge. 

Wednesday, TDOT announced they will immediately suspend all current bridge construction projects by Britton Bridge, LLC and related companies until they can perform an independent review of their safety procedures.

TDOT said Britton Bridge officials voluntarily suspended their projects following the fatal accident. However, the department wants to review the measures in place before any project work continues.

"Our thoughts and prayers are with (Jimenez's) family, friends, and fellow workers," said Commissioner John Schroer in a statement. "We want to conduct a thorough assessment of all safety measures in place on these projects to ensure the welfare of the other employees."

Additionally, TDOT will be temporarily disqualifying Britton Bridge, LLC and related companies from bidding on future construction projects until a more comprehensive review of their safety procedures can be conducted.

Tennessee's Occupational Health and Safety Administration is now investigating Tuesday's incident.  Officials will be conducting interviews with witnesses, taking pictures, and reviewing Britton's safety plans.

"Once the investigation is complete, that's when we would issue any fines and monetary penalties, if there are any,"  said TOSHA spokesperson Jeff Hentschel. 

 

Jimenez is the second construction worker to be killed on the Henley Bridge project.  

"You have to consider construction is a dangerous industry and accidents do happen, but multiple fatalities that occur in the course of just months, as opposed to a single accident is uncommon and very unfortunate, obviously," Hentschel said. 

 

Knoxville officials said they fully support TDOT's decision to suspend work on the bridge until the safety review is complete. 

"We want the project completed on time, but not at the expense of someone being hurt or killed. So, safety is always our first concern," said Randy Kenner, City of Knoxville spokesperson. 

According to the City of Knoxville, the section of the Second Creek Greenway under the bridge will be completely closed starting on Wednesday.

Officials with TDOT announced the walking trail will be closed until the investigation of the fatal accident has been completed. That part of Henley Bridge was originally shut down on May 6 as crews began to work above it. 

The contractor installed a gate at the site and would decide when it was safe for runners, walkers and bicyclists to travel along the Greenway.

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