The city of Toccoa signs off on a formal agreement to allow Norfolk Southern Railway to remove the Park Street Bridge.
City commissioners unanimously approved the agreement on Monday.
Last year, the Georgia Department of Transportation ordered the city to close the Park Street Bridge following an inspection and it then stayed close as the city and railroad discussed the future of the bridge.
Despite some area residents asking commissioners to work to keep the bridge open, Toccoa City Commissioners voted in March to approve closing the bridge permanently and pave the way for its eventual removal.
Toccoa City Manager Billy Morse said they have spent the months since finalizing a proposed agreement that contains the things already agreed to in principle by the city and the railroad.
In that agreement, the railroad agrees to fix an erosion issue along the tracks, remove the bridge, and pay the city of Toccoa $150,000 upon the completion of all of the work.
In return, the city will permanently barricade the approaches to the bridge in accordance of DOT standards.
The erosion issue that the railroad is fixing is located on railroad right-of-way and neighboring private property just east of the intersection of Currahee Street and Big A Road and is being caused by city storm water.
Toccoa City Commissioner Jeanette Jamieson said that the city has been dealing with that erosion issue for a long time and getting it fixed now is very important.
“Regardless of how people feel about the bridge and the safety of the bridge, the most important part of this agreement is fixing that erosion problem,” said Jamieson. “Sooner or later, that thing is going to give way and when it does, it would be on the railroad and it would cost the city tens of thousands of dollars and maybe more to fix it because it is our problem.”
In the agreement, the railroad says that it will not spend more than $4,000 to fix the erosion issue.
Toccoa Mayor Gail Fry asked whether the railroad could get the problem fixed for that amount.
Morse said that was something that was debated, and noted they may have access to resources that make it possible.
“It does not sound to me like they can (fix it) for $4,000, but they may be able to and that is why we wanted them to accomplish that work before they started working on the bridge,” said Morse. “That way if there is a problem, we will know it before they start removing that bridge.”
The agreement does not state when Norfolk Southern will begin the work.