The city of Toccoa plans to move forward with Norfolk Southern Railroad in removing the Park Street Bridge.
At a work session Monday, Toccoa City Manager Billy Morse outlined the city’s options on the matter to city commissioners.
The Georgia DOT required the city to close the Park Street bridge recently after inspecting it.
Norfolk Southern Railroad actually owns the bridge and is responsible for it.
Morse said that the city could make the railroad fix the bridge with no strings attached.
However, he said that is not the railroad’s desired option.
“The railroad would like to be out of the bridge business so they have given us some options for them to be relieved of maintenance responsibility,” said Morse.
Those options include replacing the bridge with a more modern bridge or repairing the bridge and then making a cash contribution to the city for it to take over maintenance and ownership of the bridge.
Morse said another option the railroad gave is for the railroad to remove the bridge and then pay the city up to $150,000.
“Say it cost them $30,000 to demolish the bridge, their plan would be to take $30,000 off the $150,000 and pay us $120,000 in cash,” said Morse. “The bridge would be gone.”
Toccoa Mayor David Austin said he liked the idea of the railroad removing the bridge and then the city receiving the cash payment.
City officials noted they rarely use the bridge and Morse said he does not think it has had a negative impact anywhere.
“Since it has been closed, I am not aware that we have had any calls complaining about it being closed,” said Morse. “We have had a couple of calls about the fact they liked the fact that it was closed.”
Morse did say that before having the bridge removed, he would recommend the city post notice of its intention and hold a public hearing to allow for any comments.
Meanwhile, Toccoa Vice-Mayor Andy Pavliscsak says this may be an opportunity to also work with Norfolk Southern on an erosion issue on railroad right-of-way elsewhere in the city that is related to runoff from a city drainage pipe.
“If we could roll a situation into eliminating this bridge, giving the railroad what they want, and roll that into fixing that issue that remains today, I think we would be way ahead of the game,” said Pavliscsak.
During its meeting Monday, the city commission expressed support for talking with the railroad about moving forward with the removal of the bridge and the erosion issue.