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Commissioners Voice Concerns About Bridges On Rails To Trails
Updated December 17, 2014 7:20 AM | Filed under: Politics
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(BEDFORD) - The Lawrence County Commissioners voiced their concerns about bridges that are likely to be added to the county's bridge inspection list.

Commissioner Bill Spreen attended the Commissioners' Conference last week and learned there is a good possibility that the county will have to pay for the bridges on the Rails To Trail to be inspected.

"That is county dollars that we will have to spend," Spreen added. "I am adamantly against this."

Spreen told the commissioners that when the Rails To Trails was developed that officials said no county dollars would be spend on the project.

"Now the county could be held responsible for the bridge inspections," Spreen added. "My question now is who is going to be responsible for the upkeep and repairs to these bridges."

Commissioner President Dave Flinn also voiced concerns about the bridges.

"These bridges were built by volunteers, who is to say they would pass an inspection now," Flinn added.

Highway Superintendent Dave Holmes told the commissioners that it cost the county about $2,000 per bridge for it to be inspected. Any bridge 25 feet or longer must be state inspected.

"We are talking a lot of money if the bridges on the trails are added to that list," Holmes added.

In March 2010, following the abandonment of the railway, the federal Surface Transportation Board issued a Notice of Interim Trail Use, which preserved the right of way for future railroad purposes, if needed, and also granted interim use of the land as a public-access trail.

At one time, Indiana law stipulated the property easements granted to railroads were limited, meaning, if they abandoned the trail, the property would revert back to the landowners.

However, in 1983, following years of rail lines being abandoned, a federal Trails Act was passed. Under the law, abandoned rail lines would be given to trail groups, and those old state laws regarding easements would no longer apply and the landowners would not get the property.

Hence the development of the Milwaukee Trailway.

The Trailway is about 20 miles long and extends from Bedford to Crane. The first phase of the project begins at O Street and will conclude at Salt Creek Bridge the second stretch will go from Salt Creek Bridge to Williams Dam, and Phase 3 winds from Williams Dam through Indian Springs, to Cale in Martin County, before ending at the Crane gate.

Another concern is once the trail leaves the city limit, there is no way to get emergency personnel to anyone in trouble or injured on the trail.

"Who is responsible for that," Flinn added. "You can't get police, rescue workers, or even a helicopter in to those injured. There is no way to get them help and that opens up another issue of liability and the possibility of lawsuits."

In other business:

Holmes reported crews were removing debris and logs that have jammed under bridges.

"What can we do about this," Spreen asked. "We have people coming in and clearing out trees along the waterways and then leaving behind the debris which goes downstream and jams under the bridges."

County Attorney Dave Smith says it is against the law and a matter for the Department of Natural Resources Division of Water to address.

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Holmes told the commissioners that has asked bridge inspectors to provide him with the minimum repair requirements to open the Jasper McKeaigg Bridge.

"We have a lot of bridges that have a lot more traffic then that bridge that need attention," says Flinn. "We need the bridge open for those in that area, but I don't want to have to drop $100,000 to do it."

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The commissioners received an annual report from owner of 39 Degrees North Chris Walls. He told the commissioners that there were 112,000 sessions on the GPS service from last year's number of 75,000. That is a 63 percent increase. Mobile access also increase by 162 percent.

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Miles Parker alerted commissioners to a change in the county's Primary Care Program. Now employees can visit Indiana University Health Southern Indiana Physicians and St. Vincent Medical Group two times a week instead of one. The program offers no cost primary care services to employees in designated blocks of time, with a focus on preferred access, chronic disease management and wellness.

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The commissioners approved the Department of Corrections grant and budget.

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Perry Volunteer Fire Chief Max Peters addressed concerns about having no guardrails at the intersection of Seiboldt Quarry and Harrodsburg roads.

"There have been three accidents there in the past 30 days and all of the vehicle were inverted," Peters told the commissioners. "One was on its roof, one on its side and the other had two wheels in the air."

The commissioners asked Holmes to meet with Peters at the intersection to discuss the safety of the intersection to see what could be done.

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Valerie Luchauer of Emergency Management told the commissioners that there would be emergency drills held at the two hospitals Wednesday.

"We will hold one at St. Vincent Dunn Hospital in the morning and the other at IU Health Hospital in the afternoon," she added. "So there will be a lot of activity around the hospitals at those times."

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Sheriff Sam Craig reported crews were working on the fence around the radio tower and placing the flag poles.

The jail count was 106, with 5 being Department of Correction holds and 16 females.



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