Safety issues with a Clarke County railroad bridge has brought train traffic to a crawl near Old Chapel. Plans by Norfolk Southern to replace the bridge deck could result in delays for residents on Route 255 / Bishop Meade Road over the Fourth of July weekend.
“Norfolk Southern has some safety issues with the existing bridge over Route 255 and have had to place a 10 MPH speed restriction for trains crossing over it” VDOT Land Development Engineer Bobby Boyce told Clarke County Administrator David Ash in a June 7 electronic mail message.
According to Boyce, Norfolk Southern would like to shut down the track section near Old Chapel in order to replace the bridge deck on the 4th of July (a low volume train day according to Norfolk Southern).
VDOT’s Edwin Carter told county supervisors on Tuesday that approximately 1,600 vehicles pass under the bridge every day.
Boyce said that Norfolk Southern had originally asked to close Route 255 and detour traffic for approximately one week. However, the railroad later agreed to a VDOT suggested flagging operation that will maintain one lane of traffic. According to Boyce, VDOT resisted the detour approach “due to the bad at grade railroad crossings, poor sight distance, and narrow roads along the detour routes.”
Norfolk Southern plans to paint the steel bridge at some point in the future which will again necessitate one lane according to Boyce.
VDOT plans to notify Clarke County with times, dates, and any changes to the Norfolk Southern plan as soon as a formal permit application has been approved for the operation.