The off-again, on-again railroad overpass project in Erwin is on again. As Press Erwin Bureau Chief Brad Hicks reported recently, the steel needed to construct a portion of the bridge that will go over the railroad tracks crossing Second Street has finally arrived.
That’s good news for every motorist who has ever been forced to wait at the busy railroad crossing. Local residents have been looking forward to the completion of this overpass for more than 20 years.
Some of the blame for the slowness of this project is the federal regulation and oversight of the railroad industry that dates back to the 19th century. As we’ve said in this space before, state government has little say in the operation of rail companies and local governments have virtually none.
“We can’t erect anything over the railroad without the railroad giving us the OK, so we’re waiting on word from them,” Randy Busler, Tennessee Department of Transportation district operations manager, told Hicks last week.
Hopefully, that word will be given quickly. In the meantime, we think it’s time for a complete federal review of railroad regulations, which have not seen a major overhaul in many decades.