Fiscal Court hears update on Buster Pike bridge project
Published 9:34 am Friday, August 4, 2023
BY FIONA MORGAN
The Fiscal Court heard an update on the rebuilding project for Buster Pike bridge, which has fallen behind schedule, at their meeting on July 25.
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Norfolk Southern demolished the bridge several months ago, and has contributed money to the county for rebuilding the bridge. Since the bridge had damaged the rail track underneath it, Norfolk Southern needs to repair the track elevation before the new bridge is built.
Lora Boller, who’s the bridge’s project manager for HMB Professional Engineers, said that while Norfolk Southern initially said they would try to move at the same pace as the county, the railroad company has more work to do.
The engineers are still trying to get a rail elevation for the finished type of rail. Boller said the railroad company has already done some work but that they need to raise the track elevation more.
“The rail elevation is something very important to us putting in the bridge, because we have to know exactly what that rail elevation is so we can maintain 23 and a half foot clearance,” Boller said.
She said in this case, they can’t overestimate the elevation because the old bridge had a very shallow depth, and the new bridge will have to be deeper, so they have to get an exact number for elevation. She said they may also have to raise profile grades on the road, but will do so in a way that limits the effects on nearby properties.
The court discussed possibly building a road on one or both sides of the railroad that leads to another track crossing, but ultimately agreed that they need a new bridge for emergency services to avoid getting stuck behind a train at that crossing. The original timeline for the bridge being down was one year, but may be longer due to delays.
Magistrate Jason Cullen said he’s disappointed by the delays, especially since constituents in that area have had to wait for trains without a bridge. Magistrates agreed that they will try to set up a meeting with the railroad to discuss their progress, and if anything can be done to speed up the process and stick with the original timeline.
The court passed a motion to make this year’s allocation $0 for the Economic Development Authority, until its bylaws are passed.
Cullen said that he was disappointed to hear that just before the recent fiscal year ended, the EDA had requested and gotten $100,000 from the county to open a bank account, without getting approval from the full fiscal court. The $100,000 was the full amount that the county had allocated for them last year.
The court had passed a motion last year to set aside that money if the EDA needed it for a specific project, at which point they could request funds from the court through a normal appropriation process.
Other organizations in the county, like the Danville Boyle County Development Corporation, put in appropriation requests for specific needs anytime they want county funds. They typically come before the court in public meetings to make those requests, which the EDA did not.
“They never put a request in for that money; we simply just set that money aside, that was technically not theirs just to come in and request; there was no appropriation request,” Cullen said.
Judge Executive Trille Bottom said she was not in office when that motion was made last year. She said it was a misunderstanding that the money was to go through an appropriation process.
Cullen further explained that the EDA has still not passed its bylaws, and will not be needing that much money in its bank account until the organization is fully formed and has projects in the works. Cullen said he’s worried about the county’s money being used for things that the county doesn’t get to approve since the EDA already has the money.
Bottom, who is on the EDA board, said that after many months of not having meetings, the EDA is starting to get operating with new members, and will soon be discussing bylaws.
Magistrates agreed that since the City of Danville allocated $50,000 for the EDA last year and this year, the county’s $100,000 for last year will match the city’s current contribution if the county contributes no money this year. They approved a motion to allocate $0 for the EDA in this fiscal year, and that any future funding requests be approved by the court.
They passed another motion to send a letter requesting that the EDA return the $100,000 due to no requests, and the county would hold that money in escrow for when they need it. Bottom said there’s no guarantee that the EDA will send the money back, but if they do, they can then request back any amount through the normal process.
In other business, the court:
• Appointed Building Inspector Rusty Cox as the Flood Plain Director.
• Made a motion to accept new additions to roads that developers have built in the Hunt Farm subdivision.
• Accepted second quarter reports from the Sheriff’s office and County Clerk’s office.