Tennessee State Parks, the Federal Highway Administration, National Parks Service and the Tennessee Department of Transportation have collaborated to help fund the future restoration of the historic Nemo Bridge in Morgan County, Tennessee.
The Federal Highway Administration will award a $1 million grant to Tennessee State Parks for the restoration project. The funding will be awarded through the Federal Lands Access Program, which was established to improve transportation facilities that provide access to, are adjacent to, or are located within Federal lands.
The federal funding will be matched by a $250,000 contribution from the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation.
“The Nemo Bridge is an iconic Morgan County landmark that serves an array of functions from transportation to safety,” said Rep. Chuck Fleischmann. “Thanks to the joint funding efforts from the Federal Highway Administration and various other contributions these functions will be dramatically improved. I look forward to seeing the impact this investment will bring to the Nemo Bridge and surrounding community.”
Nemo Bridge is in need of rehabilitation to avoid further corrosion and fatigue upon structural members, according to a 2011 inspection by TranSystems engineers and in 2016 by Alfred Benesch and Co. engineers. Bridge rehabilitation will provide safety benefits by preventing bridge failure and eliminating the necessity for pedestrians and cyclists to mix with traffic on Catoosa Road and the new bridge crossing.
“We are thankful to all of our partners who helped make this future restoration project a reality,” said Brock Hill, TDEC deputy commissioner for parks and conservation. “Part of Tennessee State Parks’ mission is to preserve and protect the unique historical resources in Tennessee. This grant will help us further accomplish that mission while providing a much needed, pedestrian-friendly option for crossing the Obed Wild and Scenic River for citizens of the Cumberland Plateau and hikers of the Cumberland Trail.”
Nemo Bridge was closed to vehicular traffic in 1999. That year, a new bridge was constructed to serve vehicular traffic into the National Parks Service area and to the town of Wartburg, but no accommodation was designed for pedestrian traffic. Historic Nemo Bridge was left standing to provide for pedestrian and bicycle traffic at the request of the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation and the Morgan County Commission.
“The preservation of Morgan County’s Historic Nemo Bridge is our main concern,” said Morgan County Executive Don Edwards. “Getting authorization for its preservation and maintenance into the hands of our State Parks was a crucial step toward that goal. I want to thank everyone involved in putting together this project, especially Cumberland Trails State Park Manager Bobby Fulcher.”
The rehabilitation project will maintain the unique and endangered Nemo Bridge connection in the Cumberland Trail State Scenic Trail, a project established by the Tennessee legislature through the Tennessee Trails Systems Act of 1971. The National Parks Service will assist with documentation required by the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA). The restoration effort will be managed by the Tennessee Department of Transportation.
“We continually convey on the Cumberland Trail the principle that pedestrian travel is good for personal and environmental health,” said Bob Fulcher, Justin P. Wilson Cumberland Trail State Park manager. “Nemo Bridge is a unique part of the Cumberland Trail and we look forward to its renewed contribution to the overall experience for visitors.”