Leader Blues

Monday, July 13, 2009

TOP STORY >> Another delay for overpass in Cabot

By JEFFREY SMITH
Leader staff writer

A ribbon cutting was held Friday atop the soon-to-be open railroad overpass in Cabot connecting Hwy. 367 to Hwy. 38.

The overpass should be ready for traffic by the end of next week. Road crews are working on finishing the bridge. To complete the project, another layer of asphalt is being laid on the roadbed. The new road also needs the lanes striped.

Cabot Mayor Eddie Joe Williams said there will be access to both ends of Polk Street. The railroad will be responsible for closing the rail crossing. When the overpass is open for traffic, the Polk Street crossing will close. It is the second railroad overpass in Cabot.

“My hope is that this is just the beginning of a north interchange,” Williams said.
Construction of the $7.2 million overpass has been ongoing for nearly two years. The bridge, which was supposed to open Friday, was built with federal funds and nearly $1 million from the city.

Austin Mayor Bernie Chamberlain said she was glad to see the overpass open. She said it will help everybody, and it is good for safety. She said it will help Austin residents when the trains stop and block the railroad crossing in Austin.

Cabot Alderman Eddie Cook said, “It shows the dedication of the council to help traffic in the city. We will continue to push forward to achieving a north interchange and to improve traffic in general.”

The railroad overpass is the first part of the planned north interchange. The interchange will help divert nearly 5,000 cars out of downtown Cabot driving to Hwy. 67/167.

Cabot Alderman Rick Prentice said it was about time the overpass was completed. He said it was amazing what concrete and steel can do to help in traffic safety.

“I think it is going to help Austin. It will put more traffic and growth in the area. I know we will see growth when we get the interchange. It is a big deal for this end of the county. It has been a long time coming,” Cabot Alderman Eddie Long said.

Some residents living along Polk Street had mixed emotions about the closing of the railroad crossing.

James Ashley said, “I think it is great. It needs to be a dead end. People drive fast down the road. When you drive over the railroad crossing now, it beats you to death.”

“I wish they would keep it open. It is easier for me to get to work. I use Hwy. 367 to cut to the freeway. Instead, I’ll have to go all around,” Sammy Chamberlain said.