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Monday, January 11, 2010

Grant for CSXT bridge work extended again

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With the extension and a new method for painting the bridge, Gadsden, Ala., officials think the project will be completed before the grant expires in September, the Gadsden Times reports. The city received a grant for $500,000 from the Federal Railroad Administration in 2005 for the CSX Transportation Railroad Bridge coating project, but the appropriation was reduced because of across-the-board rescissions by the Federal Highway Administration.

The city now has $491.964 for the project.

"We discovered that my contact at the Federal Railroad Administration retired, and the new contact who came on board there said that we had not completed the environmental process, which we had been told wasn't necessary," Associate City Planner Shane Ellison said. "We went through the steps and recently received clearance there. Now, we're just tying up a couple of loose ends with the railroad administration. When the weather improves, we will hopefully be able to get that project under contract and be completed by Sept. 9."

Ellison said the city's right-of-entry agreement with the Alabama and Tennessee Railway LandRail LLC, the owner of the bridge that has leased the tracks from Guntersville to Birmingham from CSX since 2004, also has been extended until Sept. 9.

The original plans for the bridge included sand blasting the structure and a three-coat painting system, but bids for the work came in higher than the grant amount. Estimates for the work have ranged from $600,000 to $2 million, Ellison said.

"The estimates that came in were about 50 percent more than our budget, and we weren't willing to put additional city funds into the project," he said.

Ellison said the city was contacted by a company that says it has a solution to getting the work done within the budget.

"The company has this product that's basically a one-coat paint, and you don't have to sand blast the bridge, so we've been working with them," he said. "A gentleman with the company thinks that it can be done for the available funding."

Ellison said work on the project might begin in the spring.

The condition of the bridge, with rust and peeling paint, has irritated officials and residents for years.

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