A pier for the overpass can be seen a ramp takes shape (Brad Hicks/Johnson City Press)
ERWIN — Despite the recent wet weather, construction on the railroad overpass project in Erwin is still set to be completed in the fall of 2014.
According to Mark Nagin, Region 1 community relations officer for the Tennessee Department of Transportation, 25.93 percent of the work on the project, which will eliminate traffic delays due to CSX trains blocking the Second Street crossing, had been completed as of Friday afternoon. This completion percentage mirrors the percentage of time elapsed on the project since the construction contract became effective. The time elapsed percentage is 26.3 percent.
Bridge construction, grading and drainage work and utility relocation have been going on since construction of the project got under way several months ago. Several support structures for the overpass are already visible above the horizon where work is ongoing.
Nagi said work on three piers has been completed. The cap on a fourth pier is scheduled to be poured on Monday, and footer for a fifth tier has been poured. Work on a retaining wall on the Main Avenue end of the project is nearly complete, and work on two abutments has been completed.
Stormwater installation work near the McDonald’s side of the project still needs to be completed, and stormwater work on the Main Avenue side has not yet started. Utility relocation on the McDonald’s side of the project is nearing completion, and has not started on the Main Avenue side. Utility relocation work there will be done after the stormwater installation has been completed, Nagi said.
Nagi also said that despite rainy conditions in recent weeks, the project is still on schedule.
“Rain has not played too much of a factor in most of the work except for the grading where they have had to wait until everything dries out before doing earthwork after a heavy rain,” Nagi stated in an emailed response.
Locals have been clamoring for the overpass project for around two decades, as traffic along Second Street is often delayed due to trains crossing the roadway. The project calls for the relocation of Tenn. Highway 107, also known as Second Street, from John Sevier Highway to Main Avenue through the construction of a one-half-mile “bridge” that will pass over the CSX rail lines crossing Second Street.
The project, which is being overseen by TDOT, is estimated to cost $9.4 million. The construction contract was awarded to Charles Blalock & Sons, Inc. The effective date of the contract was Feb. 4, and construction got under way in the spring. The scheduled completion date of the overpass project is Oct. 31, 2014.
The overpass, once completed, will be multimodal as it will consist of 12-foot travel lanes, bike lanes and a sidewalk. Improvements are also planned for the intersection where the overpass connects to Main Avenue, including the installation of a traffic signal and left turn lane, according to TDOT.
Erwin Mayor Doris Hensley said she is impressed with the amount of progress made since construction of the overpass began earlier this year.
“It is taking shape, and we’re very excited about the overpass project getting started to begin with, but we’re very impressed by how quickly it’s progressing,” she said. “They seem to be working steadily despite the weather.”
Hensley also reiterated previous statements she has made regarding the overpass, stating that she and other town officials feel the completed overpass will help spur economic growth in downtown Erwin and along Second Street by improving access to these areas.
“I think it’s going to bolster the retail, as well as the manufacturing,” Hensley said. “I think Second Street is going to see a lot of activity once the overpass project is complete.”