MANATEE — Ghosts, ghouls and goblins will roam Manatee County streets on Halloween night, but more frights will greet Manatee County drivers the next day.
That’s when CSX Transportation will launch a two-week repair project that will close several railroad crossings for up to 10 days at a time, officials said Friday.
“It’s a lot of pain, but it’ll be done very quickly,” said Chad Butzow, the county’s deputy director of field operations services, during a coordination meeting with officials from the county, cities, law enforcement and fire-rescue agencies.
Adding to the pain: A Florida Department of Transportation project to reduce the downtown Bradenton portion of Manatee Avenue West, one of the detours while the railroad work is going on, also is scheduled to begin Nov. 1. Nighttime lane closures are anticipated.
CSX will be replacing ties and repairing the support structure along its main line. The work will begin just north of 44th Avenue East, where CSX’s maintenance responsibility begins, and move northward toward the Hillsborough County line.
CSX spokeswoman Carla Groleau said she could not immediately provide details, and a closure schedule has not yet been released.
But local officials who have been in contact with the railroad said they expect it will look something like this:
n Beginning Nov. 1: Crossings at 26th, 30th, 32nd and 37th avenues east south of Bradenton.
n Beginning Nov. 2: Crossings at Ninth Avenue/Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue and 13th Avenue/Third Street East in Bradenton.
n Beginning Nov. 3: Unspecified crossings in the city of Palmetto.
n Beginning Nov. 8: Crossings at 39th Street East; 49th St. East/Experimental Farm Road; 61st Street East/Palm View Road; 73rd Street East.; 77th Street E.; and Bishop Harbor Road.
The work will not affect several major crossings, including those at U.S. 41/U.S. 301/First Street; Sixth and Manatee avenues west in Bradenton; 17th Street in Palmetto; and Piney Point Road. Those crossings either do not need repairs or can’t be closed to traffic for other reasons, Butzow said.
The closure dates are subject to change, and officials said they will notify the public of specific closure information as quickly as possible after they receive it from the railroad. Detours will be posted during the closures.
Although railroad crews will work Mondays through Thursdays, the crossings will remain closed for seven to 10 days at a time. That’s partly because the repairs require the removal of 10 to 12 feet of road in either direction of the tracks, which the county and cities will have to replace at their own expense, Butzow said.
“As soon as they return the crossing to us, our contractor can begin repairing the asphalt,” he said. “Within a few hours of us being able to legally work on the crossing, we will be there.”
That’s about the only silver lining of all the railroad work, he said: The asphalt repairs are expected to cost about $20,000 per crossing, significantly less than it would have cost if the county does them separately.
And there’s also a payoff for drivers at the end: Several notoriously rough crossings will be smoothed out.
Duane Marsteller, Herald staff writer, can be reached at 745-7080, ext. 2630.