By Rebekah Martin
The Opelika City Council approved a resolution Tuesday to enter into a contract with Trac-Works of Houston, Texas to renovate the Rocky Brook Rocket track system at Municipal Park.
“The track at Monkey Park has been there for 60 years and is in dire straits condition. When we started the project, we weren’t sure of its condition, but I hired two inspectors to come in and inspect the track,” said Matt Battles, area municipal supervisor for the Opelika Parks and Recreation Department. “The best case scenario is to pull the entire track up. The rail itself is not bad, it is the way it’s installed … our [track] in some places is sunken into the ground, which results in a bad riding experience, it makes it unsafe, especially in the curves.”
The proposed plan will replace the current 50-year-old cross ties with composite cross ties, which will be impervious to rot and other destruction. Battles said both companies that came to inspect the tracks recommended a total renovation of the track system.
Battles will demolish the track himself and Trac-Works will construct the new tracks from the ground up. “They will come in and completely regrade the track, we’re going to bring in new rock, and they’re going to rebuild it the way it’s supposed to be, to spec,” Battles told the council.
Council president Eddie Smith said the plan is to have a ribbon cutting ceremony at Municipal Park to unveil the new tracks and the completely refurbished Rocky Brook Rocket July 1. If the project stays on track to be completed, the event will fall on Opelika’s Independence Day celebration.
“I expect the train to be back the first of June, that will give us time to get the track laid, get a couple people trained on the operating system and give us some time to coordinate the big event and have a big party,” Battles said. “It’ll be a big day in Opelika,” Smith said.
Battles recently returned from a trip to California to see the progress RMI Railworks, Inc. has made on the Rocket. “It looks really good. It’s probably going to last another 50 or 60 years, easy. It’s a great thing,” Battles said.
In other business the city council:
-approved the purchase of two Ford F150 pickup trucks for the public works department.
-approved and authorized an agreement with ALDOT for roadway lighting at interstate interchanges 60, 62 and 66.
– introduced an ordinance that would change the name of the solid waste department to Opelika Environmental Services.
-tabled an ordinance that would amend the city code by adding sections 2-150 and 2-151 to Article IV of Chapter two; Establishing Standards for Competitive Bidding and Providing for Geographical Preference.