By Brad Hicks
A long-planned project to rehabilitate the road that serves several local industries is now underway in Erwin.
Crews are working to repair South Industrial Drive, which serves the town’s industrial park. According to Mark Nagi, Region 1 community relations officer for the Tennessee Department of Transportation, the project consists of the removal of the roadway’s old asphalt courses and stone base course and the installation of a new stone base course and new asphalt courses.
The under-construction project was awarded for approximately $1,011,000, and the Elizabethton-based Summers-Taylor Inc. is the prime contractor. The project, which is being overseen by TDOT, is 100 percent funded by the state, Nagi said.
Work on the resurfacing project recently began. Around two weeks ago, erosion and sedimentation control was installed at the site. Early last week, crews began milling along South Industrial Drive.
“They’ve got the traffic control stuff out and they’ve got the milling machine,” said Erwin Public Works Director Riki Forney. “They’ve started milling the first phase of it.”
Nagi said the South Industrial Drive resurfacing is a phased project in which the contractor will close one lane at a time and have travel in the open lane controlled by portable traffic signals. The project is made up of two phases with two “parts” to each phase, one for each lane.
“That way, they didn’t have to do an entire shutdown on the road and, that way, they could keep traffic flowing to make sure those businesses have a way to get their traffic coming in and out of it,” Forney said of the phases.
Forney said traffic along South Industrial Drive – particularly heavy truck traffic – has taken its toll on the road over the years. He said the repair project will allow the road to better accommodate the traffic going to and from businesses in the industrial park.
“There’s a lot of industrial traffic, a lot of truck traffic and, unfortunately, there just wasn’t enough substrate right there to handle that style of traffic,” Forney said.
Forney also previously said the project will widen the road and create a shoulder for better two-way traffic.
Due to the close proximity of South Industrial Drive to a section of the Erwin Linear Trail, a portion of the trail will be closed for the duration of the work.
“We’ve blocked off the trail to create a safer environment, so we’re just asking our folks don’t use that section of the Linear Trail until it’s completed,” Forney said.
Nagi also said motorists traveling on South Industrial Drive should pay attention to the construction signage and portable traffic signals.
The length of South Industrial Drive under repair is 0.813 miles, and the project has a completion date of May 31, 2017, according to Nagi. Forney said the contractor is hopeful the project can be completed sooner.
The project has been in the works for some time. In the fall of 2011, the Erwin Board of Mayor and Aldermen approved an agreement with TDOT for the South Industrial Drive repair project. Plans and environmental studies were subsequently completed.
“We are very fortunate and we’re very happy that TDOT has partnered with us on this,” Forney said. “It’s going to make the road just easier to maintain and it’s going to be a lot safer, and it’s going to help all those businesses down there. So we’re excited about it.”