City Looks into Railroad Underpass, Water/Sewer Rate Increase and More

The City of Lawrenceburg held a specially called work session meeting last night to discuss various important topics including the possibility of building a train underpass for emergency vehicles, sidewalk extension on Broadway, cemetery expansion, proposed water and sewer rate increase, sewer extension, and planning for the 2020 bicentennial celebration of the founding of Lawrenceburg.

Train Underpass

Council Member Bobby Durr brought up the idea of building a train underpass to the council after recent fatalities possibly caused by extended response time of emergency services to areas on the east side of the railroad when there is a train blocking the crossings in the city.  “For over a 100 years it has been a problem,” Bobby said pointing out how slow moving and stalled trains have caused traffic backups and slower emergency response times around the city.

He came up with idea of possibly building an underpass just north of the Woodford Street crossing behind police station that would only allow emergency vehicles to get to the east side of the city and county during emergencies.  He explained that the tracks in the area are considerably raised off the original grading of the ground and would allow a tunnel to be built.

Emergency vehicles traveling east on Woodford street would be able to go down the left lane when the crossing is blocked by a train, bypassing traffic in the right lane, and turn into the police station before going under the tracks.  They would then be able to get back on to Woodford Street on the east side of the crossing.

Police Chief Chris Atkins liked the idea: “Any idea that can possibly save a life because they got there fast enough to make a difference is a good idea.”  He was, however, concerned with whether blocked traffic on the east side of the Woodford Street crossing would hamper emergency vehicles from getting back on Woodford Street.

Council Member Wendy Shouse asked both Police Chief Atkins and Emergency Management Director Bart Powell about how much extra time currently a train blocking the crossings add to an emergency run in the area.  Police Chief Atkins explained that if the emergency was critical enough, police head south on Main Street and go through the Rock Creek development to bypass the crossings.  The extra travel would add around 3-4 minutes to their time, which can be critical.

Bart Powell explained that dispatch many times would tell them if the crossings are blocked, but sometimes they don’t know until the emergency vehicles reach the crossing and have to find a different route.  He explained that a camera monitoring system for the crossings would allow for a fast and inexpensive solution while plans for an underpass are made.

Those present for the discussion liked the idea of the cameras.  Mayor Goodlett explained that they also wouldn’t need approvals of the railroad to position cameras near the crossings to watch for trains.  Bart Powell also said it would give them data for how many times the trains are blocking the crossings which would be beneficial for future grant applications.

Council Member Durr further added to the discussion that if cameras are used, they should be positioned at all crossings in the county to allow for dispatch to know when a train is coming and in which direction it is going.  Mayor Goodlett said that he will have the city look into this solution and work with the county in possibly funding the cameras for the county crossings and further look at the underpass project as a long term project.

Questions were also raised about possibly adding emergency facilities on the other side of the tracks.  Both Bart Powell and Bobby Hume explained that it wouldn’t necessarily aid in decreasing emergency response time while trains are blocking the crossings.

Sheriff Joe Milam Addresses Council

After becoming Anderson County Sheriff last year, Sheriff Joe Milam wanted to address the council and thank city employees and the council as well as continue support for the combined emergency management approach the city and county has had for many years.  He will continue working with the city police in helping stop the drug problem and everyday operations and further explained that no other county works together like this one among emergency services.

Broadway Sidewalk Extension

Council Member Bobby Durr noticed a few years ago that there were no sidewalks on Broadway from Saffell Street to Johnson Street.  He saw a number of high school students walking home by crossing on private property which he feels is a safety issue.  He brought it up to the council then and decided to check the progress of the project.

City Engineer Monty Rhody explained that he drew up plans and submitted it to the state highway department, but they wanted him to add drainage and curbing which would considerably increase the cost of the project, with a rough estimate of $100,000.  They will be looking into various funding sources to complete the project.

Cemetery Expansion

Mayor Goodlett explained that property owners adjacent to the Lawrenceburg Cemetery have indicated that they are willing to sell their property to the city if they wanted to expand the cemetery.  City Clerk Robbie Hume explained that the city currently has around 2000 available plotted graves with additional land that could be plotted for another 3500.  With an average of 100 graves being purchased a year, he said that the cemetery wouldn’t run out of land for around 55 years and recommended that they wouldn’t need to purchase the land.

Proposed Water and Sewer Rate Increase

According to Mayor Goodlett, the city has two major operations.  One is the general fund operation which takes care of the day to day operations of the city.  The other is the city water and sewer department, which operates financially autonomous to the city.  By law, the mayor explained that funds from the general fund can’t be mixed with water and sewer and that the water and sewer department can’t run a profit or deficit.

The department, however, is currently not balanced and will need a rate increase to offset projects and losses from other areas.  City Engineer Monty Rhody explained that two major issues prompted the rate increase, in addition to other smaller contributing factors.  First is that South Anderson Water District, which serves the county, is buying less water through the city’s system.  He said that they have been buying considerable amount of water from Frankfort.  Because of this loss, it drives up the cost to produce drinking water.  Secondly, the major Alton Sewer Replacement Project will require a rate increase for the sewer side due to loans that the city will need to finish that project.

The proposed increase for minimum costs for water will go from $14.36 to $16.05 and sewer from $14.75 to $16.49.  For additional 1000 gallons, water will go from $4.42 to $4.94 and sewer from $7.38 to $8.25.

Sewer Extension and Annexation

Mayor Goodlett explained that there is a growing problem with residents living just outside the city limits or near one of the sewer lines that the city owns.  According to the mayor, the county health department is interpreting a law now requiring any residence with a failing septic system to hook up to a sewer line and not repair the septic if the residence is within a mile of the line.

In certain areas around the county, this is proving to be a problem as the city currently holds a policy of not extending sewer lines without annexing the community or area first.  City Engineer Monty Rhody explained that there a number of residences that have failing septics and a solution will need to be created soon.

Bicentennial Celebration

In 2020, Mayor Goodlett explained that Lawrenceburg will be celebrating its 200th year since its founding.  He wants to plan early and will be creating a committee to start the process.  He also said that he will be running for re-election so he could be mayor during the celebration as his current term ends before the celebration is scheduled to occur.

Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on TumblrPin on PinterestEmail this to someone
Posted in Business & Government.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.