Local Updates from ABC News Radio for Chattanooga.


State Route 248 Reopens over Interstate 65 in Williamson County

(FRANKLIN, Tenn.)  -- Just over 90 days after a tanker truck fire destroyed two bridges on State Route 248 over Interstate 65 in Williamson County, construction crews from the Department of Transportation have completed construction of a new bridge.

Two lanes of travel and a center turn lane opened on Tuesday, just before the Thanksgiving holiday weekend, marking the end of an expedited effort to build a new bridge.

“One hundred and two days to demolish two bridges and build a new one is a record for TDOT,” said Tennessee Department of Transportation Commissioner John Schroer. “I want to commend the tremendous work of our contractors LoJac Enterprises, Inc. and Brown Builders, Inc., along with the TDOT staff overseeing this project.”

Contract crews will continue work on the interchange, which is being modified as part of a $46 million project to widen I-65 from SR 248 to SR 840.

The project is expected to be completed by June 2016.

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TN Highway Patrol Announces I-40 Challenge over Thanksgiving Holiday 

(NASHVILLE, Tenn.) -- The Tennessee Highway Patrol is once again participating in a traffic safety initiative during the busy Thanksgiving holiday period.

The Interstate 40 Challenge consists of increased patrols from state police or highway patrol agencies along the highway from coast to coast.  

I-40 has more miles in Tennessee than any other state with 455 miles.

Tennessee state troopers will be assigned every 20 miles of I-40 from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. on  Wednesday, Nov. 26 and 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Sunday, Nov. 30. Additionally, Colonel Trott has requested increased law enforcement visibility on all major interstates throughout Tennessee.

“Last year, Tennessee reported zero traffic fatalities on Interstate 40 during the challenge times,” THP Colonel Tracy Trott said in a statement. “We hope to have the same success this year and will again deploy our resources to help ensure a safe travel experience through our state on the busiest travel days of the Thanksgiving period.”   

In 2013, Tennessee state troopers investigated 29 crashes on the Wednesday before and 36 wrecks on the Sunday after Thanksgiving during the I-40 challenge times. None of those crashes were alcohol-related.

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HIV Rates Increase in Tennessee 

(NASHVILLE, Tenn.) -- The number of people living with HIV in Tennessee has been on the rise in the past four years.

More than 16,000 people statewide are living with the virus. Between 2009 and 2013, an average of 871 additional Tennesseans became infected each year, according to the Tennessee Department of Health.

HIV attacks the body’s immune system, causing a life-threatening illness known as Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome, or AIDS. When a person has AIDS, his or her body’s natural defense system loses its ability to fight infections.

The average annual AIDS death toll in Tennessee for the four-year period was 294 people.

“The vast majority of deaths we see every year from AIDS could have been prevented,” said Tennessee Department of Health Commissioner John Dreyzehner in a statement. “HIV is spread primarily through unprotected sex with an infected person and sharing needles for injection drug use with an infected person. While there have been advances in AIDS treatment, there still is not a cure for it.”

The department is trying to raise awareness of the latest numbers in advance of World Aids Day on December 1. There are numerous locations across the state offering free or low-cost HIV testing, including Tennessee’s county health department clinics.

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Gov. Haslam Named Chairman of Republican Governors Association for 2015

(NASHVILLE, Tenn.) -- The Republican Governors Association announced on Thursday that Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam will serve as chairman in 2015.

"Governor Haslam is a strong leader among leaders, and his chairmanship will serve the RGA well as it works to build upon a historic election year and strengthen our majority in the states," outgoing chairman Chris Christie said. "His guidance will be a tremendous asset to this organization in the coming year."

According to the RGA, Haslam said that "Republican governors are the standard bearers of truly meaningful reform."

The RGA works to "elect Republicans to governorships throughout the nation," the organization's website says.

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio


Tennessee Unemployment Rate Drops, but Can't Keep Pace with National Rate

(NASHVILLE, Tenn.) -- The Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce announced on Thursday that the state's unemployment rate fell to 7.1 percent in October.

The figures were a small drop from September's revised rate of 7.3 percent.

The state unemployment rate has dropped by a full percentage point in the last year, from 8.1 percent to 7.1 percent.

Still, Tennessee's unemployment rate was higher than the national rate of 5.8 percent.

Copyright 2014 ABC News Radio

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