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Environmental Division

Social & Cultural Office, Historic Preservation Section

James K. Polk Building, Suite 900
Nashville, Tennessee 37243-0334
Phone: 615.741.5367
Fax: 615.741.1098

Tammy Sellers, Historic Preservation Program Manager

Historic Bridges

Historians with TDOT work extensively to identify, survey, and preserve historic bridges throughout the state. In the 1980s, TDOT began an intensive statewide survey of all vehicular bridges potentially eligible for listing in the National Register of Historic Places.

Historic Bridge Marketing Program

In addition to the statewide survey, TDOT attempts to rehabilitate and preserve as many bridges as possible. Also, TDOT has a marketing program to advertise the availability of historic bridges for preservation in place or at new locations. This program identifies governments, agencies, parks, or historic groups that might be interested in preserving historic bridges. For every historic bridge scheduled for replacement, TDOT mails information to about 100 groups that might be interested in either preserving the bridge in place or adaptively reusing the structure on a new location. This marketing program has led to the successful preservation or adaptive reuse of many of Tennessee’s most unique bridges. Because of this intensive marketing campaign, the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation and the U.S. Department of Transportation honored TDOT with an Outstanding Public Service to Transportation and Historic Preservation award.

Bridges Currently Being Offered - Honorable William Everett Lewallen Memorial Bridge on State Route 9 over the Clinch River in Anderson County

Historic Bridge Survey

Tennessee’s Survey Report for Historic Highway Bridges: Pre-1946 Masonry Arch, Timber Truss, Metal Truss, Concrete Arch, Metal Arch, and Suspension Bridges
The survey report uses historical context, narrative history, images, and drawings to explore bridge history in Tennessee, up to the end of World War II. It details TDOT's state-wide survey of vehicular metal truss, timber truss, masonry arch, concrete arch, metal arch, and suspension bridges that have been or are currently located on highways. The report discusses the survey's findings, including:

  • Historical context of road and bridge construction
  • Bridge companies that practiced in Tennessee
  • An engineering context and
  • Information on each bridge that has been determined eligible for the National Register of Historic Places

View and download chapters of the Historic Highway Bridges publication. Copies are available in book form at most library systems in Tennessee.

Historic Bridge Management Plan (Coming Soon)

In 2008, TDOT began a large-scale effort to inventory and write a management plan for historic bridges throughout the state of Tennessee.  Many of the structures have been abandoned for decades; others are currently carrying traffic on Tennessee’s roadway system.  The result of this exhaustive study is an updated look at the remaining historic bridges both on and off Tennessee’s roads.  This management plan will provide private owners, local governments, and TDOT with up-to-date information on the preservation opportunities for these dying structures.

Historic Bridge Management Plan Database (Coming Soon)

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