RR crossing closure gets group’s OK
by JOYANNA WEBER, Banner Staff Writer
Nov 29, 2012 | 773 views | 0 0 comments | 5 5 recommendations | email to a friend | print
The Bradley County Commission Road Committee approved closing a railroad crossing, and consequently a section of Old Weatherly Switch Road, during a meeting Wednesday.

The request to close the crossing was initially made to the Bradley County Commission by a representative from the Norfolk Southern Corporation.

The motion, made by committee member Robert Rominger, passed by a 2-1 vote.

Committee members Terry Caywood and Mel Griffith said they would like to look at the area and get more input from residents in the vicinity before a final vote is made by the Commission.

Although Caywood voted for the motion, he said he might feel differently about the situation after getting feedback from residents.

“Any time you have a through road and you are going to close it, you are not going to have 100 percent in favor of it,” Bradley County Road Department Superintendent Tom Collins said. “You are going to have opposition to it.”

Collins said he had spoken with some of the residents who would be affected and many seemed all right with the closure. However, two people did express concern over the plan.

“From a road department standpoint, we’re sort of neutral on it,” Collins said. “Of course, I feel that it would be safer if they were crossing on Weatherly Switch.”

Collins offered to take members of the committee to the crossing in question. Bradley County Commission Chairman Louie Alford reminded committee members that the Norfolk Southern railroad representative had driven the route and said that the difference is less than two minutes.

The county stands to save money and bring in revenue by closing the crossing.

Collins said there are repairs that would need to be made if the crossing is kept in use. These repairs have been estimated at between $12,000 and $15,000. The railroad has also offered to reimburse the county to close the crossing.

At a previous Commission meeting, William Miller, Norfolk Southern manager of grade crossing safety, estimated his company would reimburse the county $22,500 for closing the crossing. An additional $7,500 would be available from the Tennessee Department of Transportation, according to previous reports.

“I think if you ever wanted to improve the one on Weatherly Switch, they (the railroad) would be more willing to improve it, with gates and stuff, if this one were closed,” Collins said.

However, he said improvement to the Weatherly Switch crossing had not been discussed in detail.

Also during the meeting, Collins suggested the committee consider closing a portion of Old Lower River Road after the new road near Olin Chlor Alkali is completed.

Closing this section of road could also save the county money by eliminating the need to replace and widen a bridge over Mouse Creek. Replacing the bridge could cost up to $1 million, according to Collins.

Bradley County Engineer Sandra Knight pointed out this does not include any environmental issues that may have to be addressed.

Originally, this section of road would have been closed because of the chlorine pipeline from Olin to Wacker Polysilicon North America, according to Caywood. Later, the companies were told they had to put the pipe underground. Caywood said many of the people in his district were happy the road was not being closed because they use it to get to work.

Griffith, committee chairman, suggested the commissioners for that district look into how residents would feel about the closure. The road in question is in the 2nd District. Alford, a 2nd District commissioner, said that could be done. Alford and 2nd District Commissioner Connie Wilson will give a recommendations to the road committee in the future.