By JUDY SHERIDAN
Work on the Aledo Trail one-way couplet in downtown Aledo got underway Tuesday, about a month after the county announced the beginning of construction.
The late start was due to concerns that construction equipment might clip an overhead power line, according to Freese & Nichols construction manager Brett Calvert, who said the project is now scheduled for completion Dec. 20.
“Mainly we had an Oncor line to get out of the way,” he said.
By Thursday, workers had removed trees near Aledo City Hall that once stood in the path of the couplet’s southbound leg, which will be constructed first.
Portions of some of the trees have been salvaged, Mayor Kit Marshall said, and may be used to create wood statuary on the “grounds” inside the couplet.
The new two-lane road will extend across a new railroad crossing, connecting to FM 1187 at Maverick Street. The railroad crossing should begin construction in the next two weeks, Calvert said. Bulldozers have been busy clearing the site, with dust flying from the mountains of dirt near City Hall created by the FM 1187 excavation.
The dirt will become the base for the new road, Calvert said. It will be used to make the road level with the railroad tracks.
Once the new road is built, Calvert said, traffic will be diverted onto it, so the portion of FM 1187 between Maverick and Elm streets can be reconstructed as a one-way northbound corridor, completing the couplet.
McMahon Contracting, the contractor selected to expand FM 1187, won a $3.18 million bid for the construction of Aledo Trail in December and was to begin work Feb. 25.
The two projects work together to improve traffic flow, with Aledo Trail’s couplet — allowing four lanes of traffic over the railroad tracks — consistent with FM 1187’s expansion from two to four lanes.
Marshall has said the Aledo Trail project will also improve safety, economic development and the overall quality of life for Aledo residents.
The new one-way “quiet” railroad crossings, judged so safe that trains won’t need to blow their whistles, will have gates that completely block the roadway when a train passes.
There will be a sidewalk for pedestrians and a fence that impedes access to the tracks except at the crossings.