Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Corman can't bring special trains from Lexington until issue with new bridge there is resolved

By Colin Walsh and Dick Yarmy
University of Kentucky School of Journalism and Telecommunications

"When will the dinner train start?" new City Council Member Joy Arnold asked Mayor Tom Bozarth at Tuesday night's council meeting, reflecting a widspread notion that is why RJ Corman Railroad Co. is planning to double-track its line through Midway.

Bozarth shot down that notion. He said the new track will allow Corman to park excursion trains "and maybe a dinner train" without blocking its main line, but not until the railroad resolves an issue with a new bridge over its track from the Lexington Civic Center, where passengers would board.

The bridge for the recent extension of Newtown Pike, KY 922, to US 60 is too low to allow the cars to pass under it, Bozarth told reporters after the meeting. “We knew the bridge would be a problem from the beginning,” he said, adding that Corman apparently will have to excavate and lower its track under the bridge. He said "a substantial amount" of excavation would be needed under the new Oliver Lewis Way, named for a great African American jockey.

During the council meeting, Bozarth said construction of the side track is expected to begin Feb. 1, but "It'll be a while" before the town that was spawned by the building of the railroad in the 1830s will get an eagerly awaited, rail-borne shot to its downtown economy.

The mayor closed the conversation by commenting that to his knowledge Corman had yet to announce specific details. “I’d prefer to leave any comments about Corman’s plans to Corman,” he said. Corman's vice president for strategic planning, Noel Rush, told the Midway Messenger this month that the company has no definite plans for use of the side track.

Talking to reporters after the meeting, Bozarth commented how much the railroad's owner, R. J. Corman of Nicholasville, enjoys the community and was sure whatever the company was planning would be in the best interests of Midway. Corman has brought his steam locomotive Old Smoky to several Midway events.

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