By Hannah Curran, Editor
TRUSSVILLE — The city of Trussville and Birmingham teamed up with Norfolk Southern to overcome the train problem that continues to plague the area. Trussville plans to vote on a resolution at the city council meeting on Tuesday, September 13, impacting the train crossing blockages.
Trussville Mayor Buddy Choat said the $10 million Railroad Crossing Elimination (RCE) planning grant is for a study.
“With the help of Norfolk Southern and Senator Tuberville’s office, Gary Palmer, Terri Sewell, [Trussville Councilmember Lisa Bright] went up there for her Appalachian grant that she got; she met with them on behalf of us,” Choat said. “We have been in discussions with Norfolk Southern and Birmingham about trying to partner to resolve some of the issues we have, and this is where we are today.”
Choat said this study would lay out the infrastructure necessary to fix the problems.
“Our problems are not near what Birmingham’s are, but it all goes hand in hand,” Choat said.
According to Bham Now, the city of Birmingham passed the resolution today to match the 20 percent requirement for the RCE grant, and one of the factors for Birmingham will be the elimination of “train horn noise for the South Woodlawn area enabling the construction of affordable housing.”
Trussville will also have to match 20 percent, and Norfolk Southern has pledged $1.5 million. Trussville and Birmingham have pledged $250,000 each.
“I think it’s wonderful news,” Representative Danny Garret said. “I applaud the officials from the city of Trussville and the city of Birmingham and Norfolk Southern for working together to try to solve a very serious problem. It’s good news, and hopefully, it will come to fruition and address the issue that’s really not just Trussville, but all over the city of Birmingham.”
Choat said this is the first step in getting a grant to study the infrastructure that’s needed to correct the problems.
“Hopefully, we won’t have any more crossings blocked in Trussville,” Choat said.
The grant will look at ways to mitigate crossing, and Choat explained that the study would look at crossings that they can close.
“In other words, if they had part of this infrastructure, particularly in Birmingham, but also in Trussville, there will be some areas where bridges can be built, and there are some areas that may have to go underground,” Choat said.
Choat said underpasses would be designed more for the Birmingham area.
“That’s what they’re talking about when mitigating some of those crossings; they would actually close some of the at-grade crossings to where they would have, as I said, bridges or underground tunnels to go under those tracks,” Choat said. “Now the bridge could potentially be in Trussville at Mary Taylor Road.”
The study will look at all crossings in Trussville to determine the best course of action. Choat said they would close that at-grade crossing if a bridge is built.
“What they’re looking for is more room to add some more rail to get more trains in and out of Noris Yard,” Choat said. “Since we’re here on the eastern side, and of course, Birmingham comes in from the other side.”
Choat said this is good for Trussville, and finding ways to alleviate the train problems has been in the works for several months.
“There’s actually calls every Wednesday now with a group that we collaborate with and talk about what needs to be done next,” Choat said. “We’re gathering some information to submit with this application for the grant. So it’s a work in progress, but it’s essential if we’re going to get anything changed.”
Once a study is done, Choat said that would help them see whether they can design this infrastructure.
“This $10 million is just for a study,” Choat said. “So when you’re talking about doing it, a revamping, so to speak of the rail service, through Birmingham, Trussville, all through the state of Alabama, but mainly this one, it’s going cost hundreds of millions of dollars when it’s all said and done, but this has to be done before any of that can go any farther.”
Choat said this agreement shows there is cooperation between Trussville, Birmingham, and Norfolk Southern.
“This is what we’ve been telling people that have been complaining about it, that there has been some work being done to try and find a way to remedy, but it’s not going to happen soon or overnight,” Choat said. “It never gets done if we don’t start this because this is the first real chance we’ve had to make a difference in the blockings of Trussville not only now but in the future.”