WEBSTER COUNTY, Ky. (5/9/14) — The Kentucky Transportation Cabinet Webster County Highway Maintenance Crew has been on the attack for about the last year, taking out abandoned rail crossings along rural highways.
In the last few months they have taken out several rail crossings in the Providence area. Today, they pulled old tracks and ties out of a crossing on Kentucky 143 in Webster County. The crossing, once part of the old Tradewater Railway and earlier part of an Illinois Central Railroad Line that served coal mines and industries through Webster and Crittenden Counties, was abandoned in about 1996.
When a salvage company took up the tracks and ties for recycling, they left the old rail crossings intact to avoid having to re-pave the roadways the tracks crossed. The Webster County Highway Crew has been systematically pulling out the old rail crossings. They’ve pulled 4 or 5 such crossings in about the last year and have plans to remove one more. The last crossing along Kentucky 2837 in Webster County will likely be removed in a few weeks as maintenance schedules allow.
The crossings are filled back in with temporary asphalt. Traffic will be allowed to run on the area for a few months so the new base and pavement can settle. A paving crew will then come back and add a finish coat of asphalt to fully restore the roadway. A couple of the old rail crossings were removed in areas where paving projects are scheduled this summer.
While most of the highways were scheduled for a full day closure, KYTC Webster County Superintendent Chris Martin says his crew has been able to pull most of the crossings in less time than that. The crossing they pulled today along Kentucky 143/Diamond-Fishtrap Road at mile point 0.48 just west of Kentucky 109 near the Blackford community was completed and reopened to traffic around 12 p.m.
One little known quirk of Kentucky law, in places where the railroad was there first, the crossing generally belongs to the railroad. In areas where the state highway was there first, and a rail line was built across it, the crossing generally belongs to the Transportation Cabinet. The Transportation Cabinet and the railroads work in a cooperative effort to keep rail crossings in good repair.Once a rail line is officially listed as abandoned, highway crews can remove the crossing.
Information provided by Keith Todd
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