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Dandridge approves new bridge to replace one paved with history

The Dandridge City Council approved plans last week for a new bridge that crosses Douglas Lake.
Dandridge City Council approved plans for a new bridge to replace the existing bridge across Douglas Lake.

(WBIR- Jefferson County) The Dandridge City Council approved plans last week for a new bridge to replace the Hoskins-Jarnagin bridge that crosses Douglas Lake.

Council member Mike Chambers said the existing bridge is 16 feet wide with no shoulders. According to TDOT plans, the new bridge will be 52 feet wide with two 12 foot lanes and 10 foot shoulders on both sides. Plans also include a five foot sidewalk.

Chambers said the bridge has become more of a problem over the last 20 years because there has been more construction on the south side of the bridge.

He said safety was also a main concern since many large trucks and boats cross the bridge. The bridge was built in the 1940's when cars were much smaller, he said.

"I try to avoid it simply because of the danger factor," Chambers said.

The manager at Angelo's at The Point, Todd Williams, said he has to take the bridge to get to work, driving over it seven to 10 times a week.

"I've had my mirror smacked several times where it flings them back, but other than that, I've seen a lot of mirrors on the bridge itself," Williams said. "So, I think that with the larger bridge itself will help out everybody."

Shawn Jackson has lived in Dandridge off and on for 35 years. He said a lot of his memories revolve around the bridge, and he's sad to see it go.

"I don't like it at all. I mean that bridge has been there since as long as I've been alive," Jackson said. "It's basically a historic little bridge for us. I mean before it was green, they painted it blue. We called it the big blue bridge when I was growing up."

Chambers said the council had discussed using the existing bridge as a pedestrian and bicycle crossing, but it was not cost efficient.

"It's going to be sad. A lot of people have fought. The town has fought to keep it," Chambers said. "We were hoping they would build a new bridge and keep the old bridge."

The new bridge will be built west of the current bridge, and construction is set to begin in 2015, Chambers said.

"It's going to be tough to lose it, but for the safety factor—sometimes progress just happens," he said.