Bridge concerns mount
By By J.W. Greenhill, Hartselle Enquirer
As Hartselle waits for financial help to replace the Hammitt Street bridge, the deteriorating structure is causing problems on the railroad tracks beneath the span.
A portion of the Hammitt Street bridge railing was reported missing to Hartselle Police at 12:41 p.m. Sunday. Authorities said they were unsure what caused the damage.
Police reported the damage to CSX railroad authorities and the bridge was closed until CSX crews replaced the missing railing on Monday afternoon.
The bridge,which can accommodate up to 3,000 pounds, has been re-opened for public use.
CSX spokesman Dan Murphy said a portion of the bridge railing was hanging from the structure, but that crews found no obstruction on the tracks below and could not confirm a rumor that a portion of the railing hit a passing train.
"There is no report of that in our records," Murphy said.
Mayor Clif Knight said replacing the bridge is one of the projects the city needs some assistance with to accomplish.
"I'm concerned that anyone has to use the bridge," Knight said. "Those rails weren't very strong anyway. You could move them with your hands."
Knight said the city has put aside $210,000 for the replacement of the bridge, while the Metropolitan Planning Organization has pledged $300,000 to the project. CSX has committed to $10,000, Knight said.
The final cost of the project will be determined by what kind of bridge is built. A two-lane bridge would adequately replace the existing one-lane span, but Hartselle city planners are pushing for a four-lane bridge to provide the city a northern bypass.
Knight said he and MPO planner Leon Felts talked with Alabama Department of Transportation's Paul Bowlin six weeks ago about obtaining assistance on replacing the bridge from the department. So far there has been no response from that contact, Knight said.
"The next step will be to meet with Johnny Harris, the District 1 engineer, to discuss our needs," Knight said.
"Hartselle is having to stand in line for help right now," Knight said.