TERRE HAUTE, Ind. (WTHI) – A contractor working on a Terre Haute city street made an interesting discovery this week. The discovery will be interesting to history buffs, but it will increase the cost of a simple project.
There are other and more expensive examples being found throughout the city.
The city is doing a little drainage work just to the east of these railroad tracks at 10th and Ohio Streets. But the contractor for this job got a little more than he bargained for.
“The contractor uncovered some old rail road ties and sections of railroad tracks,” said City Engineer Chuck Ennis.
As often as we get railroaded here in Terre Haute, the amount of rail lines we have in the city today pales in comparison to what we had back in the 1890’s. That’s according to the City Engineer’s office. In fact, Ennis told News 10 the rail lines discovered at 10th and Ohio are part of a switching yard that was in this area in the late 1800’s.
“There a little bit of a flat spot here, and from about Poplar Street north to maybe about Eagle Street was where the switching yard used to be,” said Ennis.
Past road work simply laid brick, then paved asphalt over these tracks. Ennis stated the asphalt sealed the ties for a while but they eventually deteriorated, leaving behind a bumpy mess on the surface of the road.
“This is similar to a problem we’re having with the old inter-urban lines. The ties are rotting. The pavement is collapsing, and the void where the ties used to be,” said Ennis.
Those inter-urban lines are found on North 13th Street and South 7th, coincidentally two paving projects outlined by Mayor Duke Bennett to News 10 on Thursday. And much like what we saw on Wabash Avenue a few years back, these won’t be simple paving projects for road crews.
“It costs a little more to do that than a regular paving project because all the old bed has to be removed, but eventually we’ll get it knocked out,” said Ennis.
And for taxpayers, paying extra for paving projects will be as frustrating as… well… getting railroaded. And we all know how often that happens.
The city says the project at 10th and Ohio should be finished in about two weeks, weather permitting.