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Since 1964, the John Coffee Memorial Bridge has served drivers on the Natchez Trace Parkway, going back and forth over the Tennessee River. However, during its 58-year lifespan, the nearly one-mile-long bridge has never had any significant repairs.

That's why, now through November 28, the National Park Service (NPS) is asking for public input on how to proceed.

"The bridge, while currently safe, has exceeded its design life and is becoming structurally deficient, meaning the bridge is deteriorating due to time and limitations of the original design and will soon be limited in load carrying capacity," the NPS website stated. "The National Park Service, in coordination with the Federal Highway Administration, is working together with additional state, agency and partners to determine strategies to continue to call for future safe access across the river."

The NPS said the bridge, located just north of Cherokee, was designed to last 50 years and is now showing worrisome signs of wear and tear, such as cracking, deterioration of bridge piers and other structural issues.

There are currently four options to fix the bridge issue up for discussion: two, which involve building a new bridge at a different location, either north or south of the current bridge; demolishing and building a new bridge at the current location; or repairing the current bridge.

Comments can be made at the NPS project website or physically mailed to Natchez Trace Parkway 2680 Natchez Trace Parkway, Tupelo, MS 38804.

To connect with the author of this story, or to comment, email daniel.taylor@1819news.com.

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