Two left lanes of westbound Interstate 40/65 were closed Tuesday evening at Charlotte Avenue near downtown for another emergency bridge repair.
The Tennessee Department of Transportation also closed a portion of Charlotte Avenue beneath the interstate overpass for several hours after debris fell from the interstate to the road below.
The road repairs were expected to run until 4 a.m. Wednesday to replace old concrete on the overpass.
One lane on both westbound I-40 and Charlotte Avenue is expected to remain open during the repairs.
"We were concerned that we had small chunks of concrete dropping out of the bridge. We just couldn't let that continue," said TDOT chief engineer Paul Degges.
When TDOT engineers took a closer look, they saw water pooling between the asphalt on top of the surface and the concrete on the bottom, slowing eating away at the concrete.
"Water seems to be damming up underneath, between the number two and number three lane, and that is putting a lot of water right on that center lane. And that's getting in that concrete, accelerating the dilapidation of it," Degges said.
The repairs come just a week after TDOT closed two lanes of westbound Interstate 40/65 above Charlotte Avenue for emergency bridge repairs when a section of the bridge began to crumble.
After those repairs, TDOT said the bridge - which is due for a rehabilitation project in the next year - remains structurally sound for vehicles.
Aug. 6 emergency bridge repairs
Two westbound lanes on the bridge were quickly shut down Aug. 6 when chunks of concrete began falling on Charlotte Avenue below.
While the bridge was patched up, it's only a temporary fix and part of a bigger problem along I-40. Part of the problem is age.
The overpass over Charlotte and four other overpasses in the downtown area were built in the 1960s.
The interstate on the west side of downtown Nashville is a major route in and out of that area.
Ron Reesquez sells The Contributor newspaper each morning by the overpass. He's been selling the paper there for at least a year, but for the past two months, he's noticed the bridge making unusual noises.
The morning of Aug. 6, he said the noise got worse.
"It gets louder and louder," said Reesquez. "Today, I told one of my customers that bridge is fixing to go. It's a rumbling noise, and it gets louder and louder."
That was at 9 a.m. Tuesday. The concrete began to fall from the deck of the bridge by mid-afternoon.
It happened just before rush hour when Tennessee Department of Transportation crews closed two westbound lanes on the bridge to do a quick repair and pour fresh concrete, creating a bigger than usual traffic backup on I-40 West.
TDOT Chief Engineer Paul Degges wants to ease any fears drivers have that the bridge is unsafe.
"We talk about a hole in the bridge, but keep in mind the steel is still there," said Degges. "The concrete material is lost."
There are a number of bridges just west of the Charlotte Avenue overpass that were built in the 1960s and need attention.
"We are underway right now doing studies on the bridge and the next three bridges down, looking for ways to rehab and possibly replace the structures," said Degges.
TDOT expects to begin rehabbing the bridges along I-40 by July 2014. Most of the work will be done on the weekends.
Copyright 2013 WSMV (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.
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