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Work Resumes On Gold Line's Hawthorne Bridge After Girder Snafu

Work gets back on track this week on the Hawthorne Lane bridge over Independence Boulevard after wrong-sized steel girders slowed the project to a crawl. The news comes not a moment too soon for neighbors and nearby businesses. 

Contractors for Charlotte Area Transit System are rebuilding the bridge as part of the $150 million LYNX Gold Line streetcar extension. Girder work stopped in January when workers discovered that the beams' curvature was not right, said CATS' deputy project manager Tonia Wimberly.  

"Their vertical alignment was off. So working with the contractor, they agreed to remanufacture the girders and have them replaced," Wimberly said. 

There's no cost to the city. The contractor has to pay for the mistake.  

Workers will start this week by taking out the existing girders. Then it will take about three weeks to install the new ones. 

Wimberly said contractors have been finishing other tasks and that in the end, the bridge will reopen only about a month behind the original March schedule.  

"Overall on the project, the loss of time was minimal. We do expect the bridge to reopen in April. The overall project should still be ready to open the end of 2020, beginning of 2021," Wimberly said. 

A sign on Seventh Street alerts customers that Hawthorne's Pizza is still open during CATS Gold Line construction.
A sign on East Seventh Street alerts customers that Hawthorne's Pizza is still open during CATS Gold Line construction.

The Hawthorne bridge closed in July 2017 and the project has been a headache for residents and nearby businesses.

Chris Mullis manages Hawthorne's Pizza, at Hawthorne Lane and East Seventh Street. He said it's been a difficult couple of years.

"It's disrupted business for certain. If we hadn't had other locations, we wouldn't be here right now," he said.  

The slowdown in business has cost him, but he said the shop will be able to tough it out until April.

"Oh yeah, we've got this," Mullis said.

The Gold Line currently runs from the Transportation Center uptown along Trade Street and Elizabeth Avenue, to Hawthorne Lane and East Fifth Street. Extensions at either end will take it across Independence to Sunnyside Avenue and west to Johnson C. Smith University.

David Boraks previously covered climate change and the environment for WFAE. See more at www.wfae.org/climate-news. He also has covered housing and homelessness, energy and the environment, transportation and business.