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WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 13, 2006
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Hartselle to start Hammitt bridge repairs in April

By Deangelo McDaniel
dmcdaniel@decaturdaily.com 340-2469

HARTSELLE — Remember the Hammitt Street bridge project Hartselle leaders have talked about since signing a contract with the Alabama Department of Transportation in 2002?

It may be closer to reality.

A unanimous City Council voted Tuesday night to extend the DOT contract through Jan. 15, 2011.

"This is something that is typically done every four years," said Jeff Johnson of the Department of Development.

"When are they going to start the work?" Council President Kenny Thompson asked.

"In April," Johnson answered.

The bridge replacement is phase 1 of a four-phase North Hartselle bypass with an estimated cost of $15 million to $20 million.

CSX Corp. owns the 73-year-old bridge, which is the only elevated east-west railroad crossing in Hartselle. The bridge has a 3-ton limit, which means fire- trucks cannot cross it if a train is blocking downtown routes.

Hartselle leaders have known for some time that the bridge was structurally unsound. In 2002, two guardrails fell on the train tracks, forcing CSX officials to close the bridge for repairs.

In 2003 the state put the bridge on its "fast-track" list because of safety issues. DOT is providing up to $1.5 million to fund the project, which involves giving motorists a route from U.S. 31 to Georgia Street and Bethel Road.

Johnson said the state is finalizing appraisals for rights-of-way acquisition.

"Once this is complete, they will bid the project and get started," he said.

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