Ledger Inquirer

Railroad needs to get rid of renegade blob of blacktop

Excess asphalt causes extra jarring ride or causes drivers to swerve on Second Avenue.
Excess asphalt causes extra jarring ride or causes drivers to swerve on Second Avenue. mowen@ledger-enquirer.com

One of our many Concerned Readers reports that there’s a potentially dangerous but really more annoying than anything else problem on Second Avenue.

Second Avenue? Take a number.

The problem is where Second Avenue crosses the railroad tracks (and vice versa) at 20th Street. In addition to it not being exactly the smoothest crossing, it has a special feature. In the right lane going north toward Bibb City, just on the north side of the tracks, a large mound of asphalt sticks up a few inches, enough to give your tire and suspension a healthy jar if you’re going fast.

In addition to possibly causing car trouble, the chunk of asphalt causes some drivers to swerve into the left lane, which could cause problems, considering the way folks drive on Second.

The asphalt isn’t between the rail tracks, but it’s close enough to certainly be in the railroad right of way, which would make it the railroad’s problem.

But I called Pat Biegler, the city’s public works director, to make sure, and because she likes it when I call her with problems that aren’t her problems. Pat confirmed that anything that close to the tracks would be on the railroad’s property and would hence be their problem.

Pat said she’s seen contractors do that sometimes, just dump a pile of excess blacktop somewhere and “just walk away from it.”

That’s just rude. But it’s not the city’s problem, and even if they were of a mind to fix something even though it’s not their problem, they couldn’t do it here, because the railroad owns the land and they’re really touchy about anybody else doing anything on their land.

I called Norfolk Southern headquarters in Atlanta and spoke to a nice guy who determined which crossing I was talking about. Actually, Norfolk Southern lines cross Second Avenue in four places, he said: in the Historic District, on Ninth Street, under the Second Avenue Overpass and then at 20th Street.

“That would be the Alabama Division Engineers,” the guy said and transferred me to a woman named Margarite in the 205 area code, which is Alabama, but the other side of it.

But that didn’t matter because she didn’t answer anyway.

I’ll keep trying Margarite and I’ll bet we get something done, but no time soon. It’s been our experience that Norfolk Southern is good about repairing problem crossings, but not so good about doing it promptly.

Stay tuned.

Seen something that needs attention? Contact me at 706-571-8570 or mowen@ledger-enquirer.com.