The Market Street Bridge, which reopened with fanfare in 2007 after a $13 million remake taking over two years, is now covered with graffiti and showing a number of cracks and deterioration in its concrete members.
Much of the bright blue paint on the center of the popular bridge is now splashed with the work of "taggers."
It appears that someone recently walked the length of the bridge on both sides and left a trail of black paint blotches.
There are many cracks showing up in the rebuilt concrete members stretching the length of the bridge.
Some of the tall concrete posts that hold street lights are deteriorating around the base.
Several places on both sides of the bridge a number of the concrete ribs at the base have been shattered - either from a vandal or a wrecked vehicle.
Jennifer Flynn of TDOT said of the graffiti on the bridge, "We try to cover it over when we can, but we are fighting a losing battle. This area has already been painted over once in an effort to eradicate it. The very next day it was retagged."
She said, "While we have no organized program to deal with graffiti, our bridge repair crew will soon schedule to repaint over what they can. Unfortunately, we don’t have the manpower to constantly monitor for graffiti."
Ms. Flynn said the Market Street Bridge is a state bridge, and TDOT is responsible for the maintenance of it.
She stated, "Our bridge inspectors close the bridge quarterly to inspect the drawbridge portion of the bridge. During the quarterly inspections, our crews test and lubricate the opening and closing mechanisms and test the associated electrical systems. However, these quarterly inspections are limited to the operation of the movable section of the bridge and are intended only to address functionality, not aesthetics.
"In addition to the quarterly inspections to ensure that the drawbridge portion of the bridge is in proper working order, TDOT bridge inspectors conduct a full inspection once every 24 months. The last full inspection was completed in June 2013, so it will be due again in June 2015.
"During the regular, bi-annual (24 month) inspection our inspectors attempt to catalog every deficiency in the concrete, steel, paint etc. We publish an inspection report in which we make maintenance recommendations for each bridge. When all of the bridges in a particular county have been inspected, all of our maintenance recommendations are provided to the applicable TDOT District Maintenance Supervisor as well as the Region 2 Bridge Repair Section in Chattanooga. District Maintenance Engineers and Region 2 Bridge Repair personnel determine which deficiencies they are capable of addressing based on available manpower and equipment. The inspection report and bridge maintenance recommendations are also reviewed by a bridge evaluator at Headquarters in Nashville. If maintenance recommendations are not able to be addressed by Region 2 Maintenance or Bridge Repair personnel, then the evaluator will eventually place the bridge on a repair list that will be used by Headquarters Bridge Repair personnel to prioritize bridge repair projects that will be let to contract."
She said, "It appears that the damage to the concrete rail was caused by a vehicle, while the concrete surface on the obelisk appears to be eroding. None of this damage will affect the structural integrity of the bridge, but it does look unsightly and will be noted in the next full inspection."