ERWIN — Work on the long-awaited solution to delays and backups caused by trains crossing Second Street is now under way.
Construction on the railroad overpass project, which is being overseen by the Tennessee Department of Transportation, started several weeks ago. According to Mark Nagi, TDOT Region 1 community relations officer, overall construction is now a little more than 5 percent complete and due date for completion of the overpass is Oct. 31, 2014.
The overpass has been in the works for around two decades as trains running along Second Street often lead to motorist delays and traffic backups. The project is designed to relocate Tenn. Highway 107 from the John Sevier Highway to Main Avenue and calls for the construction of a one-half mile bridge to pass over the CSX rail lines that run across Second Street.
The estimated cost of the project is $9.4 million, and the construction contract was previously awarded to Charles Blalock & Sons, Inc.
According to Nagi, crews have been doing excavation work of the footers for several support bends and a retaining wall. Utility relocations have also been started and storm sewer installation work has been ongoing.
The completed overpass will consist of a multimodal facility with 12-foot travel lanes, bike lanes and a sidewalk, according to TDOT. Improvements are also planned for the intersection where the overpass connects with Main Avenue, including the installation of a traffic signal and a left turn lane.
Erwin Town Recorder Randy Trivette said Erwin officials have worked for around a quarter of a century to bring the overpass to Erwin, work that has included trips to Nashville to meet with TDOT officials. He also said the project has been a top priority of his since the day he started as town recorder.
“It’s very important,” he said. “That’s another one of those projects that’s been a long time coming, that’s worked on for a number of years. Even prior to my time at the city, they were working with TDOT to try to get that project in.”
Like Trivette, Erwin Mayor Doris Hensley also said she is glad to see that construction on the overpass is under way.
“It’s been a lot of hard work, but it’s been an endeavor that we’ve never turned loose of,” she said. “We’ve always been there, chomping at the bit, trying to get the overpass completed.”