Cold snap chills construction workers - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Cold snap chills construction workers

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CHATTANOOGA, TN (WRCB) - Brisk winds in the Chattanooga area Thursday have flags rippling and trees swaying. The dramatic cool-down puts a chill on the Highway 27 project. Construction manager Tony Newman says it can impact the speed and ease of construction.

"T-DOT specifications have requirements as far as temperature limitations," says Newman. "So there are items that cannot be installed during really cold weather."

This includes pouring concrete.

Newman says crews simply have worked around the problem during the past couple years, shifting focus to other parts of the project if needed.

Workers have to be careful, following the same basic rules we all do for staying warm if stuck in the cold.

"Early cold snaps always hurt when we're used to the warm weather and being outside all the time. The workers try to dress for those days," explains Newman.

Conditions have gone from mostly sunny and warm to cloudy, windy, and cold in less than 48 hours. So they wear up to four layers of clothing, including hoodies and thermals, and cover much of their faces.

"Dressing appropriately, drinking a lot of warm coffee, staying bundled up, and staying busy," says job superintendent Shaun Ryder.

Ryder's approach is straight forward and he says workers are used to changes in weather. But it's a little harder to handle when it suddenly hits all at once.

"[When] You go from 70 [degrees] to the 40s, it's pretty tough," adds Ryder.

Also, workers eat their lunches in vehicles or equipment shelters to stay warm.

Newman, however, doesn't expect the chill to affect the project's time table. He says last winter's consistent, unusual cold weather didn't cause many delays or spikes in people calling in sick.

"People have the flu and they have colds just like anybody else. You become acclimated to working outside," says Newman. "The project is pretty much on schedule."

TDOT officials say the project should be finished in February, 2015--weather permitting, of course. It could be done as early as the end of this year.
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