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Norfolk Southern denies Tryon Streetscape railroad encroachment

Published 2:04pm Wednesday, December 28, 2011

The Town of Tryon has hit a snag in its Streetscape plans to improve the South Trade/New Market/McCown Street intersection as Norfolk Southern said the town is not allowed to encroach its right of way.

Tryon Town Council met Dec. 20 and heard from town manager Justin Hembree who said the town received two good bids for the project, but railroad owner Norfolk Southern denied any work being done in the right of way.

Hembree said the denial from Norfolk Southern does not mean the project is not possible. The town has communicated back to Norfolk Southern saying it understands a very small portion of the project is within the railroad’s 20 ft. right of way and asked the railroad what their specific issues are so the town can try to avoid any problems.

Hembree said he hopes when Norfolk Southern will approve the request once the company realizes this is basically a paving and sidewalk project.

“We have received the application that you sent in on behalf of the town of Tryon to request right of entry into railroad property,” said Norfolk Southern’s Matthew Jones to Hembree. “The attached application requests permission to enter railroad right of way for the purposes of surveying rail property related to a parking improvement project. I am familiar with the project and have discussed the proposal with our Strategic Development department. We have determined that at this time we do not wish to allow further encroachment in the area. This line will be reactivated at some point and it is important that we maintain minimum safety clearances in compliance with FRA regulation.  If you have any questions please let me know and I will be glad to talk with you.”

Tryon council approved the preliminary design for its Streetscape III project in April, which includes work at the New Market/South Trade intersection. The town has budgeted $12,000 this fiscal year for the project as well as $2,000 from the Tryon Downtown Development Association (TDDA) and a $15,000 grant from the Polk County Community Foundation (PCCF) Unrestricted Fund.

The South Trade/New Market section was selected as the first to be constructed for the Streetscape project due to its minimal construction costs and it will be the most visible.

The design includes the N.C. Department of Transportation (DOT) straightening the intersection of the two roads, placing a crosswalk and an area for plantings as well as a bump out.

Tryon officials have said the DOT wants to make the intersection more of a 90-degree angle.

Other work is for drainage improvements, curb and guttering, sidewalks and paving.

Also in the plans is making McCowan Street one-way.

For more information on the town’s Streetscape Master plan and information about downtown Tryon, visit www.downtowntryon.org.

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