Commission looking into overpasses to fix Colbert County train debacle

Monday, the Colbert County Commission passed a resolution seeking $200,000 from the Shoals Economic Development Authority to fund an overpass feasibility study.

Posted: Jan. 24, 2018 6:07 PM
Updated: Jan. 24, 2018 6:16 PM

The Colbert County Commission passed a resolution Monday seeking $200,000 from the Shoals Economic Development Authority to fund an overpass feasibility study.

Residents tell WAAY 31 they are growing weary of the ongoing problem with trains stalling at vital crossings. Wednesday, another train stalled on Douglas Street in Sheffield making it impassible for hours.

"Oh my gosh here we go again."

Those are the thoughts that run through Faye Johnson's mind when she sees a train stuck on the tracks. "It's just gotten to be a terrible situation in Sheffield," said Johnson.

Norfolk Southern controls the tracks and trains in the Colbert County area and with main tracks running through Sheffield, Johnson tells us she's seen trains block crossings for days on end.

"The train was stalled from Friday afternoon until Saturday," said Johnson.

Others who live in Sheffield tell WAAY 31 their main concerns are over safety, saying if crossings are blocked ambulances must take other routes or wait to get to Helen Keller Hospital on the other side of the tracks.

"You would think they would be considerate enough to at least unhook the trains and leave the crossing open if they are going to be sitting there for hours," said David Johnson, who lives near Douglas Street.

Colbert county commissioner, Tommy Barnes, who represents Sheffield said he met with Norfolk Southern officials and they have pinpointed 3 major crossings at Douglas street, Avalon Avenue, and 12th street in Sheffield where an overpass could go.

"It would be more economical and lower cost to put it in the west end of Sheffield and Tuscumbia," said Barnes. "It would enhance the transpiration and safety of emergency response."

Barnes said that's why they are asking SEDA to fund the overpass feasibility study to get expert opinions on where and how many overpasses could be put in place. He said they would then present the study to Norfolk Southern, who would help pay for 5% to 10% of the costs.

"They'll look at what they will do, as far as, match or appropriations of up to 10% of construction costs," said Barnes.

For residents like David Johnson, he hopes SEDA will fund the study and help the community.

"I hope SEDA goes along with that. They have enough funds to do that and I think it's a real necessity," said Johnson.

Barnes tells us the next step is getting on the agenda to speak with the Shoals Economic Development Authority and present their plan of the feasibility study.

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