Feds Give $2.2 Million for Cumberland River Bridge Rehabilitation and Automation

The historic bridge over the Cumberland River in Clarksville, Tennessee. (Photo by Todd DeFeo/The DeFeo Groupe)

The feds are sending up to $2.2 million to help rehabilitate and automate a historic bridge over the Cumberland River in Clarksville, Tennessee.

R.J. Corman Railroad Group will receive the funds as part of the Federal Railroad Administration’s (FRA) Fiscal Year (FY) 2020 Consolidated Rail Infrastructure and Safety Improvements (CRISI) Program.

Overall, the FRA selected 50 projects in 29 states to receive funds. The projects include a range of railroad investments that authorities say will improve the safety, efficiency, and reliability of freight and intercity passenger service.

The Clarksville project’s money will rehabilitate and automate the bridge’s turning mechanism and remote dispatch integration on the R.J. Corman Memphis Line. Repairing the draw span’s turning mechanism will eliminate turn malfunctions and reduce unexpected delays for river and rail traffic across the bridge, officials said.

As of 2020, approximately 35 percent of bridge turns resulted in failure, with an average time to resolution of 2 hours. Automation and remote dispatch of the turning mechanism will create operational efficiencies and reduce human personnel to manually operate the turning mechanism.

The Memphis, Clarksville & Louisville Railroad built the original Cumberland River crossing in the mid-19th century. But, it has been overhauled and rehabilitated various times over the years.

In 2009, Tennessee gave Montgomery County $945,926 to improve the bridge’s structural integrity and safety. The project will also help with “economic development and urban renewal efforts,” officials said at the time.

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