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Erwin railroad project poised to pick up steam

Brad Hicks • May 26, 2014 at 10:21 PM

ERWIN — The railroad overpass project in Erwin should begin to take further shape within the coming weeks, as the steel needed to construct a portion of the bridge has arrived.

Randy Busler, TDOT district operations manager, said steel components necessary for construction of the portion of the overpass that will go over the railroad tracks crossing Second Street arrived Thursday.

Busler said once TDOT gets the clearance from CSX, crews will begin construction of the overpass above the rail lines. Until then, he said crews will work to assemble and bolt as much of the steel structure on the ground as possible.

“We can’t erect anything over the railroad without the railroad giving us the OK, so we’re waiting on word from them,” Busler said. “Right now, it looks like we’re going to start erecting on the bridge itself across the railroad on June 3.”

Once the portion of the bridge crossing the tracks is completed, Busler said crews will move on to construction of other areas of the bridge.

“That’s the critical one, going across the railroad, because we have to coordinate with them,” After that, then the rest of the main line steel beams will be erected on the bridge.”

The railroad overpass project, which has been anxiously awaited by locals for more than two decades and is being overseen by TDOT, calls for the relocation of Tenn. Highway 107, also known as Second Street, from the John Sevier Highway to Main Avenue via the construction of a one-half mile “bridge” that will pass over the CSX rail tracks crossing Second Street. Trains crossing these tracks frequently results in traffic backups along Second Street.

The construction contract was previously awarded to Charles Blalock & Sons Inc., and the project is estimated to cost around $9.4 million. Earlier this month, Mark Nagi, Region 1 community relations officer for TDOT, said the estimated completion date of the overpass project is Oct. 31.

Busler said Friday that this is the completion date crews are “shooting for.”

“Now that we have our steel issue resolved and we’ve got the steel on site, everything is going smoothly now,” he said.

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