The Wolf Creek Bridge over the French Broad River
Since 1928, the Wolf Creek Bridge that spans the French Broad River near the Tennessee, North Carolina border, has been a main route on US 70 as it enters the Blue Ridge Mountains. In April of 2012, the bridge was declared structurally deficient, and closed. To the credit of the Tennessee Highway Authority and the Federal government, it was decided that the historic span would be completely dismantled, down to its raw concrete arches, and rebuilt in the same style.
Using the newest laser scanning technology, the old bridge was recreated in the digital world, and from that model, all design work was done without having to go on site for measurements and structural component relationships. The video below shows that PDF animation.
After two years of construction, the new “old” bridge reopened ahead of schedule on February 2, 2014. With the new construction, the bridge was widened from 24 feet to 30 feet. After the opening, painters continued to cover the new span in bright white paint, only recently completing the difficult task. The entire project was completed for under $9 million.
How fortunate we are to be able to enjoy such a beautiful work of engineering art, instead of the too often substituted generic variety that we have come to know and hate. Thank you Tennessee and America for having the guts to do the right thing. The bridge will now be added to the National Registry of Historic Places, to be maintained and protected for generations to come. Click on the photograph below to see the full screen image.