Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Council to pay CSX $18,850 on Higgins water project, calls for 'extreme caution' on Versailles bypass design

By Megan Ingros, Kacie Kelly and Cameron Owens
University of Kentucky School of Journalism and Telecommunications
(Corrected version)

The Midway City Council voted Monday night to pay CSX Railroad a surprising $18,850 for a license agreement and insurance on the Higgins Street water-line replacement project.

The council also scheduled the Iron Horse Half Marathon for Oct. 11, and passed a resolution calling for "careful consideration" of Midway's interests in the state's design of a Versailles western bypass that could increase truck traffic on US 62.

The payment to CSX will include a $16,000 for a license agreement allowing the city to use railroad property for the project, which includes a loop line to eliminate problematic dead-end lines. The R.J. Corman Railroad Group operates the rail line but CSX still owns the railroad.

The "pretty hefty number" was a surprise, consulting engineer Chris Stewart told the council. "We knew there was going to be a cost," he said. "I didn’t think it was going to be quite that much." In past cases, CSX has charged a small annual fee, but now wants a lump sum, said Stewart and Council Member Bruce Southworth.

The city has a low-interest loan from the state for the $188,000 project, but with no project money left to cover the money for CSX, it will come from the city's water fund. This year's water budget is $1.3 million, mostly for purchasing water from Kentucky American Water Co.

The rest of the payment is for insurance. CSX requires a $5 million liability policy, and Midway has a $3 million policy.

The project is the first of what may be a series of improvements to Midway's water lines, replacing them slowly over time. Higgins Street Project is being tackled now because the dead-end lines are prone to leaks and sediment buildup, resulting in bad water.

Council Member Libby Warfield abstained from voting because she lives nearon Higgins Street and a water line her family installed will be used as part of the project. "This is a great benefit for me," she said. "We've had 24 years of bad water."

The city also hopes to get a state loan to repair sewer lines that allow water to leak in, burdening the system. Stewart said the original plan was to seek $670,000 for the Brand Street sewer, but said the problem there is likely being caused by leaky sewer lines that feed into it. He said he had prepared an application for $420,000 to use cameras and smoke and dye tests to find leaks, including $150,000 for sending a camera up residents' lateral lines that feed the city's line.

"You're probably going to find that's where a lot of problems are, but that's a touchy issue," because the lateral lines are private property, he said. The council still has the opportunity to decide against lateral launching. “We’ll cross that bridge when we come to it,” Mayor Grayson Vandegrift said.

The council granted the Iron Horse Half Marathon a permit to use city streets for its sixth race on Sunday, Oct. 11. Warfield suggested that the race be run on SaturdaySunday. "Thank God you have eighteen hundred people who can run the race," she told organizer Chuck Griffis. "Why can't you consider doing this on Saturday rather than Sunday?"

Griffis said most marathons and half-marathons run on Sundays because vehicular traffic is lighter. Warfield replied, "You’re running on our two main roads that are all horse farms, and horse farms go seven days a week." After more conversation, Griffis said he knows from two shorter Saturday races that use Spring Station Road, which is part of the Iron Horse course, that traffic on the road is heavier on Saturdays.

With little discussion, the council approved a resolution offered by Vandegrift calling for "extreme caution and careful consideration" in the design of a western bypass of Versailles, formally called the Northwest Versailles Mobility Corridor. One of the three alternates for the road's intersection with US 60 is the US 60-62 junction, which would "substantially increase the amount of tractor-trailer and vehicle usage" on US 62, Midway Road, the resolution says.

The resolution, to be sent to state officials, says Midway Road "is a narrow, two-lane road with little or no shoulders . . . already over-utilized by tractor-trailers," and in Midway is "lined with residences where children play and residents walk to school, church and downtown."

In a nod to the problems Versailles has with downtown traffic, the resolution says "The City of Midway recognizes the autonomy of the City of Versailles, and does wish to inhibit its right to relieve and regulate any traffic issues, safety and quality-of-life considerations relating thereto."

Council Member Sara Hicks called the resolution "nice . . . not too heavy-handed." Vandegrift said city attorney Phil Moloney toughened up his draft.

The council also decided to advertise for bids in interest rates for financing approximately half of the purchase price of the new fire truck.

At the conclusion of the meeting there was a closed session to discuss the sale or purchase of real property. No action was taken, Vandegrift said.

No comments: