A small cut-through road off of Stuart Smotherman Road in the northern end of the county has been recently closed off by RJ Corman Railroad, or at least the four concrete barriers that now block the once open passage across the tracks, won’t allow anyone to pass.
The recent action has upset a few who live out the Smotherman way including Bobby Collins who came to Tuesday’s fiscal court meeting asking if there were anything the county could do to reopen the road.
The problem lies with finding out who actually is responsible for the road. According to Judge Executive Logan Chick there is no documentation found yet that says who the road belongs to. Chick feels the road fell off the county system when the state held a “gigantic” road hearing in 1988.
Chick has been taking with BRADD about the road and is trying to find additional information, however, it looks as if it may be a dead end just like the closed road is now.
According to Chick, RJ Corman placed the concrete barriers blocking off the tracks and said road because they feel the railroad track was becoming to dangerous with trucks and farm equipment trying to cross it. There have been many trucks cutting through the road and have gotten stuck on the tracks. The road’s high grade leading up to the tracks is another problem and would be very costly to cut down and repair.
The road has been there for over 70 years, said Collins, who asked the court for any documentation saying the road was not on the county or state map. He also asked for any documentation when the residents in that area were told of a change.
Judge Chick said he and Magistrate Barry Joe Wright were planning on speaking with RJ Corman about what can be done, if anything. Chick said he believes it would be the responsibility of whoever owned the road to repair the grade. A project like that could cost taxpayers in the neighborhood of $40,000 plus if the county claimed the road, which is now considered private.
Residents on Stuart Smotherman Road can gain access to Hwy. 431 from other ways, one only a mile from the closed road.
Collins said the road has always been the same. He can remember crossing that road on a bus when he was in school. Collins told the court he appreciated looking into the matter further and said maybe signs can be placed on the road letting people know about the grade instead of closing it.