County keeps railroad crossing open

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By Alison James

Associate Editor

 

An unprotected railroad crossing in Smiths Station will remain open, following research by the county highway department into closing the crossing, which was the site of a recent accident involving a train and an automobile driven by a Smiths Station teacher.

County engineer Justin Hardee said they looked into closing the crossing but after considering all angles decided to forgo that plan.

“We do not feel at this time that it was in the best interest of the community to close the crossing,” Hardee said. “We have identified some additional signage … that we can place that will let the traveling public know – if they turn left or right onto Lee Road 927, where the crossing is, the sign will tell them there are parallel train tacks there they need be aware of … We feel this is prudent.”

Commissioner Gary Long, who initially requested and recommended Hardee look into the matter, said he agreed with Hardee’s recommendation.

“I don’t think it would be in the best interest to divert the traffic,” Long said. “I’m going to back off from what I had asked for.”

Improvements for the crossing, to include safety signals, are in the plans. Hardee said installation should be complete in about six months, based on his latest conversation with the railroad.

A county citizen, Ronnie Ward, came before the commission to express concerns about noise annoyances on his road, Lee Road 268, and other roads in the county jurisdiction.

“I feel there’s a need for some type of noise ordinance to help us deal with noise from all different sources but in particular a couple of nightclubs,” Ward said. “In my neighborhood, the Rhythm and Blues club on Highway 29 N. is still pounding us pretty good. I’m a good quarter of a mile from it, and we can hear it almost as good as they can in the club.”

Ward said it would be nice to have a way to address a noise issue without having to take a criminal prosecution route.

A noise ordinance has previously been discussed and been in the works in the county.

“Shelby County is the only county that we have been in direct contact with that has put a noise ordinance to use,” explained county administrator Roger Rendleman. “They’re having some mixed feelings about it.”

Rendleman said while having a criminal element to the ordinance, there is no ability to give the ordinance the teeth for enforcement on a criminal level.

“There’s a little disconnect there … (and) the problem is sometimes when you try to do noise ordinances, it’s hard to retroactively go in and (apply the ordinance) to something that is already existing.”

Rendleman said the county will continue to research and assess its options for a noise ordinance.

“We want to have something you can pass that actually will work,” Rendleman said.  “We’re trying not to reinvent the wheel; we just haven’t found a wheel that will work quite yet.”

The commission also:

– announced two terms expiring  on the Lee County Recreation Board.

– approved county sales tax exempt status for the Alabama Council on Human Relations.

– voted to pave the parking lot and helipad at Beulah Volunteer Fire Department.

– approved a $60,000 contingency allowance for the meeting center project because of newly-discovered problems with the roof.

– granted a restaurant retail liquor license for Hayloft Grill and Pub.

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