published Wednesday, April 24th, 2013

Signal Mountain Highway 127 exit ramp disappears

Tennessee State Trooper Pumpy Tudors stands guard on Signal Mountain Bloulevard on Monday evening as the old U.S. Highway 127 exit ramp bridge is broken up by two Wright Brothers Construction machines.
Tennessee State Trooper Pumpy Tudors stands guard on Signal Mountain Bloulevard on Monday evening as the old U.S. Highway 127 exit ramp bridge is broken up by two Wright Brothers Construction machines.
Photo by Tim Barber.
  • photo
    The ramp is down and cleanup continues, closing Signal Mountain Road from 7 p.m. until 6 a.m. today.
    Photo by Tim Barber /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

Retaining walls remain along the side of U.S. Highway 127, but the old Signal Mountain exit ramp no longer can be found.

Early Tuesday morning, Wright Brothers Construction crews demolished the exit ramp leading from Highway 127 to Signal Mountain Road.

"The demolition went better than expected," said Ken Flynn, director of operations for the Tennessee Department of Transportation.

Originally the demolition was scheduled to take two nights, but the crew was able to get most of the demolition done in one night, leaving only a little work to be completed early this morning.

"They took the bridge down piece by piece, using a ram hoe to break up the concrete," said Jennifer Flynn, regional community relations officer at TDOT, who went to watch the demolition.

A monstrous hydraulic pincher, described as a huge pair of scissors or clamp, was used to break up large sections of the concrete. Pieces of the bridge were placed on the road, which was protected by pads, until being cleared away in time for morning traffic.

Waiters at Crust Pizza noticed a decrease in the number of customers they served Monday night because of the detour caused by the demolition.

"Business last night was real slow and servers have been complaining today about not getting tips last night," said Luke Holliday, a manager at Crust Pizza.

"The detour makes people less likely to come this way, as it takes you all the way through Red Bank," Holliday said.

He said he hopes traffic will become normal within the week and that customers will return.

A new two-lane exit ramp will allow for traffic to turn at a traffic light in the eastbound and westbound directions along Signal Mountain Road.

The exit ramp construction is part of the larger project to widen the highway between Signal Mountain Road and the Olgiati Bridge. Work is expected to be completed in December 2014.

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