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Hartselle to transfer funds for bridge project

By Deangelo McDaniel 340-2469

HARTSELLE — The Hartselle City Council has agreed to pay four property owners $88,005 for land that is part of the Hammitt Street bridge replacement project.

The Alabama Department of Transportation will reimburse the money, said Jeff Johnson of the Department of Development.

"But before they will do this, we have to provide them title work, appraisals, closing statements and copies of the canceled checks," Johnson said before Monday's council work session.

The property owners whom the city has signed agreements with are Terry Phillips, Hartselle Utilities, Russell Family Partnership and Corr Wireless.

The bridge replacement and land acquisitions are included in phase 1 of a four-phase North Hartselle bypass with an estimated cost of $15 million to $20 million.

CSX owns the 73-year-old bridge, which is the only elevated east-west crossing in Hartselle.

3-ton limit

The bridge has a 3-ton limit, which means firetrucks 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.

Last month, DOT included the bridge in the state's five-year plan for priority roads projects in 2008.

Johnson said the state will bid the project in January and hopefully start construction in March.

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