|Bridge Name||Facility Carried / Feature Intersected||Location||Structure Type||Construction Date and Builder/Engineer|
Marion Memorial Bridge
|Dixie Highway (US-41/US-72/US-64) Over Tennessee River||Haletown: Marion County, Tennessee||Metal 10 Panel Rivet-Connected Modified Parker Through Truss, Fixed and Approach Spans: Pre-Stressed Concrete Box Beam, Fixed||1929 By Builder/Contractor: Unknown|
|Rehabilitation Date||Main Span Length||Structure Length||Roadway Width||Main Spans||Approach Spans||NBI Number|
|1966||360 Feet (109.7 Meters)||1870 Feet (570 Meters)||20 Feet (6.1 Meters)||4||20||58SR0020023|
This beautiful bridge is historically significant for its large size, including an impressive approach system. The larger main spans are large also, at 360 feet. The smaller spans are interesting to look at. They are traditional polygonal Warren through truss spans, but a bit short at 140 feet, but next to the larger main spans, look quite tiny. Perhaps the most important aspect of this bridge however is the unusual design of the larger main spans. Although it appears to have been a standard plan in Tennessee, as evidenced by the similar TN-58 Bridge, which is doomed, the Haletown Bridge is extremely unusual today both nationally and within the state. The large spans are a modification of the Parker truss, whose two centermost panels utilize a truss arrangement that is like that found on a K-truss configuration. The K-truss is a highly uncommon truss configuration, mostly found in Oklahoma and is itself a noteworthy find. This unusual blend of the two configurations is just and unusual and noteworthy. In addition, the unique design of the truss creates a beautiful aesthetic design in which a clear diamond shape is visible when the bridge's elevation is viewed from a distance. Finally, the bridge is significant because it is on the Dixie Highway, which was an important early north-south highway, that remains today only in name on some of the roads this route once followed. The highway today is still regionally significant, serving several U.S. highways.
This bridge was a toll bridge until 1947. The 1966 rehabilitation date refers to a large project in which the bridge deck was raised by 57 feet to accommodate the higher waters caused when the Tennessee Valley Authority created Nickajack Dam. The approach spans appear to have been completely rebuilt at this time. Pre-stressed concrete, which is used on the approach spans was not a common material in 1929, but it was in use in the 1960s. As a result, the bridge has a rich history, one that tells the story not only of itself, but of the changing environment around it.
The bridge has a vertical clearance for vehicles of 14.6 Feet (4.45 Meters) and a navigational clearance below the bridge of 48.9 Feet (14.9 Meters).
Despite having an embarrassingly low number of remaining truss bridges, TDOT wants to demolish this beautiful historic bridge. Indeed, perhaps no other state has offered less of a commitment to the historic bridge community. One TNDOT official said they didn't expect than any metal truss bridges would remain in the state in the years down the road, with the exception of the Walnut Street Bridge in Chattanooga. Such a statement can mean only one thing: Tennessee intends to demolish every single highway truss bridge remaining in the state! This is an alarming statement, and highlights the need for the U.S. Congress to reinforce its declaration that preserving historic bridges is in the national interest, and expand existing limited preservation laws, that currently place little pressure on states like Tennessee to preserve their historic truss bridges.
The current federal laws for historic bridges do provide some limited protection and aid. If federal funds are used to replace a historic bridge, the owner must first market the bridge to a third party who may take the bridge to relocate and preserve elsewhere, or in some cases (like the Haletown Bridge) be able to simply preserve in place. That third party then has the choice of taking a sum of money up to the cost of demolition to put toward preservation, or alternatively, applying for a Transportation Enhancement Grant to help preserve the structure. These laws are a step in the right direction, and in the end might help the Haletown Bridge, but they generally do not go far enough to make a significant difference in the fate of historic bridges in the United States.
Fortunately, some people are saying enough is enough. Aware of the doomed TN-58, and the great potential the historic Haletown Bridge and surrounding scenic area has as a tourist attraction Paul Archambault, historic preservation planner with the Southeast Tennessee Development District wrote up a National Register of Historic Places nomination for the Haletown Bridge. His hope is to inspire a preservation project, one in which the historic structure would be left standing next to its replacement for pedestrian use. It is important that this bridge be saved, as it is a beautiful and unusual bridge in a state that has few metal truss bridges. It is an asset to the surrounding area, and as public interest in metal truss bridges gradually increases, the decision to preserve this bridge now will be one that people will be thankful for both now and down the road.
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