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Rail work to close intersections

A county engineer says it is tough to predict when the U.S. 41 crossings will reopen.

By BILL COATS, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published February 17, 2002


LUTZ -- The march of intersection closings for railroad work will hit southern Lutz hard this week, leaving only the crossing at Whitaker Road open along a 21/2-mile stretch of U.S. 41 normally served by six crossings.

"It might be an inconvenient detour, but it's a detour nonetheless," said Tony Craparo, a Hillsborough County senior engineer attempting to coordinate the road closings with the railroad work.

Up to five intersections could be blocked simultaneously.

Crossings at Debuel and Duque roads are expected to be closed beginning at 8:30 a.m. Tuesday as a railroad renovation crew works its way south beside U.S. 41. The railroad's intersections at Chapman Road, Hanna Road and W Lake Burrell Drive are expected to be closed at 8:30 a.m. Wednesday. Each blockage is scheduled to last several days.

Craparo's job has been difficult because the CSX Transportation crew is replacing all railroad ties along the line and replenishing the gravel beneath them. The workers close each intersection whenever they get there, but equipment breakdowns or other interruptions make the arrivals hard to predict, Craparo said.

"They move at a prescribed pace and they don't stop," he said. "They're moving down that track, and ready or not, here they come."

That's why Craparo avoids predicting when the intersections will open. In previous weeks, intersections at Lutz-Lake Fern and Crystal Lake roads that were closed on Mondays reopened the following Thursdays. But last week, Whitaker was closed just from Wednesday to Friday.

Next week, the work is to move to Sinclair Hills Road, then to a sequence of intersections south of Bearss Avenue.

- Bill Coats can be reached at (813) 269-5309 or coats@sptimes.com.

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