Railroad crossing in disrepair to be reworked

By RON HARRIS
Posted 5/16/18

A railroad crossing on Highland Avenue just off Old Birmingham Highway in Jasper will be reworked beginning next week after years of being in disrepair.

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Railroad crossing in disrepair to be reworked

Posted

A railroad crossing in the city that’s been neglected and in disrepair for many years will finally get an upgrade.

Jasper Mayor David O’Mary told city council members Tuesday morning that Burlington-Northern Railroad, which maintains the crossing on Highland Avenue just off Old Birmingham Highway, will begin reworking the crossing a week from Thursday. 

The project includes removing all the old, wooden crossties — many of which have splintered over the years — and pouring a concrete base that will last for years, O’Mary said.

“It’ll be there for many years after you and I are gone,” he said. 

People who live in District 5 and have to pass over the crossing daily have complained for years about its condition.

Now, after work by District 5 council member Willie Moore and O’Mary, the crossing is finally being reworked.

“This is long overdue,” said O’Mary, who’s been in discussion with officials from Burlington-Northern over the past few months about the project. “I’ve been talking to people from Omaha to Memphis and back and forth a few times.”

The crossing will be closed for about a week while work is being done, O’Mary said.

“It’s great news for the city,” he said. “No longer will the people in District 5 have to have the bottom of their cars taken out every time they pass that crossing.”

The city will have to repave a small section of roadway on both sides of the crossing that will be torn up during the project, O’Mary said. 

In other business, council members:

•approved minutes of the May 1 meeting.

•adopted an amendment to the city’s budget to provide $9,500 for preliminary engineering and survey work for drainage problems near 13th Avenue.

•adopted a resolution to allow O’Mary to enter into an agreement with McGehee Engineering for the preliminary drainage review and survey work for property near Old Tuscaloosa Road.

Recent heavy rains caused additional problems with drainage near the property.

•adopted a resolution to allow O’Mary to enter into an agreement with the Alabama Department of Transportation to widen and repave approximately 1,000 feet of Airport Road, from just south of U.S. 78 to near the entrance to Woodland Drive. 

“Airport Road is one of the major thoroughfares bringing people into the city,” O’Mary said. “You don’t have to travel that road daily to see the need.”

•adopted a resolution to place several properties under the city’s nuisance abatement ordinance because of overgrown grass and weeds. 

The majority of the properties are in District 4.

•introduced an ordinance to rezone a 6-acre property at 301-309 North Airport Road from R-1 (single family residence) to B-2 (community service) for future development.

The issue was previously approved by the city’s planning commission.

•introduced an ordinance to rezone 1.8 acres of a 5.4-acre property near 1501 U.S. 78 West and 304 14th Avenue West from R-1 to B-2 for a retail business.

The issue was also previously approved by the city’s planning commission.

•introduce an ordinance to place a 4-way stop sign at the intersection of 26th Street and Delaware Avenue. 

•heard from O’Mary, who said city leaders are in discussions to begin converting all the street and roadway lighting to LED lighting. 

While the cost to the city for converting to LED has not been officially determined, O’Mary said the cost “would be favorable to our budget.”

“It will be a major, major return on value to the taxpayers in the city,” he said. 

The project, which would include changing some 2,800 fixtures, could take from 12 to 18 months to complete, the mayor said. “It will really change the complexion of our city.”

•heard from former state Sen. Charles Bishop, who expressed his concerns about the drug problems in Jasper and Walker County.

“I looked at the numbers recently, and they’re not pretty,” Bishop said.

Bishop said city leaders must increase their work on the problem.

“You must step up and take a role in solving the problem,” Bishop said.

•heard from Gene Hyche, who asked council members about the possibility of a facelift for the city-owned 12th Avenue Park.

Hyche lives near the park and said it’s an asset to the city, but does need some work.