I've been working on the railroad. But not getting much done.
A Concerned Reader wrote to me last week to complain about a couple of rough rail crossings in south Columbus.
I have lived in the Holly Hills subdivison for 32 years. We are boxed in by railroads leading to South Columbus and Fort Benning. There is a railroad crossing (no longer used by the railroad) at 3800 Aldridge and 400 Brennan Road that is in such disrepair that I believe the spikes on the tracks cause tire damage. I recently had to purchase two new tires, one because of cuts that I think was caused by the spikes. I and countless others use this crossing daily and this track is a nuisance.
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A few years ago, our councilor was contacted and a very minor repair was done, but it was not done well and that has degraded. Several more emails to the councilor have produced no response.
Mike, please help!
Well, Dessie, I'll see what I can do.
First I rode out to see how bad the crossings really are and to verify whether the tracks are indeed no longer in use.
Yes, they really are as bad as Dessie describes. And from the looks of the amount of overgrowth on the tracks, I would guess the last time this line was used was to haul Confederate troops.
So I called Pat Biegler, the city's director of Public Works, to see what the city's responsibility might be for maintaining unused rail lines.
"That depends on whether the railroad still owns it," Biegler said. If they still own it, it's their responsibility, but if it's been given over to the city, then the city is responsible, she said.
As Biegler was checking into the ownership issue, I was thinking it's a shame that the rail line in question isn't part of the nearby line that will soon be turned into a multi-use trail, a la the Fall Line Trace. Then you'd only have to worry about puncturing your tires on bicycle frames.
Then I heard back from Biegler's office, and the results were mixed.
The good news for taxpayers is that, according to city records, it's still owned by the railroad, so the city won't have to pay to repair it. But that's bad news for Dessie and others who drive through that area. Getting the railroad to do anything is like moving a glacier with a teaspoon.
But I'll see what I can get them to do. Stay tuned.
-- Seen something that needs attention? Contact me at 706-571-8570 or firstname.lastname@example.org.