Mayor, council member skeptical of plan

Published 12:00 am Monday, August 19, 2002

It would increase safety, and even provide the city with additional money.

But to members on the Selma City Council, this may not be enough to make them budge.

After making a trip to Selma in June, Bill Hughes, the manager of grade crossing safety for the Western Region of Norfolk Southern Corporation, a railway company that owns much of the rail line in Selma, made a recommendation to the city to reduce the number of railroad crossings in Selma. It’s a move, he said, that would reduce the number of crashes between oncoming trains and vehicles.

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But in order to do that, the railroad companies would need to close thru-access to a number of streets in Selma.

According to statistics from Norfolk, since 1993, there have been 20 crashes involving automobiles and trains on rail line owned by Norfolk in the City of Selma.

In an effort to reduce the number of crossings, Hughes said Norfolk would even offer an incentive plan that would pay the city $63,000. He added that the city could also apply to the Alabama Department of Transportation for a grant &uot;in the amount of $7,500 per closure.&uot;

Hughes recommended that crossings at Legrand, Leroy, St. Phillip, Lawrence and Union Streets be closed.

In a memo addressed to the city, Hughes said &uot;criteria for closure includes average daily traffic count, impact on the surrounding neighborhood, affect on emergency response time, economic development etc.&uot;

Selma Mayor James Perkins, when asked about the recommendation, said that the city had not made a decision regarding the closures.

He added that before making the decision, the city would hold a public hearing.

Perkins noted, however, that members on the city council were not pleased with the idea of closing several of the crossings.

Councilman James Durry, when asked about the possible closures, said that his main concern was that closing several of the crossings would prevent motorists from using the shortest routes possible &uot;in order to reach their neighborhoods.&uot;

Councilman Glen Sexton also said he was against the idea. Sexton said his reason for opposing the idea is based on the city’s past relations with Norfolk.

Citizens, living near railway sites in Selma, also voiced similar complaints.

When asked about the cleaning, Hughes said the city simply needed to contact them.