When a bridge is rebuilt just south of downtown Franklin, the project will tie together improvements made around the area and make a walking and biking trail safer.
Work is expected to start by the end of this year on a $1.7 million project to rebuild the bridge over Youngs Creek along South Main Street in Franklin.
The bridge has deteriorated over the years and has been on the county’s list of projects for a while, county highway department director Luke Mastin said.
But in addition to rebuilding the structure and surface of the bridge, crews will also widen the bridge to make more room for sidewalks along the sides of the road with barriers between cars and people.
And the trail crossing just south of the bridge will be moved underneath the road, Mastin said.
The work will help tie together other improvements that have been made around downtown including using the same lighting and landscaping as other areas while making it safer for pedestrians, Franklin Mayor Joe McGuinness said.
“It’s one less intersection you have to cross when walking, jogging, biking,” he said.
The new design will be similar to the trail crossing under U.S. 31, Mastin said. When the water in Youngs Creek is high, it will flood, so walkers and bikers will still cross the trail along Main Street. But when the water is low, they can use the crossing underneath the road, Mastin said.
Rebuilding the bridge has been on the county’s list of projects for years, Mastin said.
Officials began noticing the deterioration of the structure when the Home Avenue bridge just east of there was closed and rebuilt in 2011, he said. When that bridge was closed, Main Street became the detour route, and officials saw it was also in need of work.
Now the Main Street bridge will close, and Home Avenue will be the detour, he said.
The county plans to get bids from contractors for the project in December, and some work can be done over the winter, Mastin said. Once work starts, the bridge will be closed. The exact timeline of the project will be determined based on when work can begin, but Mastin expects it will be done by the middle of next summer at the latest, he said.
The project is being covered with federal funding, which will pay for 80 percent of the project, and the city and county will split the rest, Mastin said.