• John McGary, Woodford Sun Editor

‘Miscommunication’ about when R.J. Corman railroad work would end

LEXINGTON STREET TRAFFIC was backed up beginning last Friday at 9 a.m. as a result of railroad track and crossing maintenance by the R.J. Corman Railroad Group. This photo was taken about 45 minutes before Woodford County High School let out Friday. (Photo by John McGary)

Advance notice was given of railroad work that shut down a stretch of the U.S. 60 Bypass beginning last Friday, Nov. 1 – but once the work began, things got a bit confusing for motorists and local public officials. A flashing sign on the bypass was put up a week or so before the work was to begin. On Oct. 27, the Versailles Police Department (VPD) posted a notice saying the project would last through Monday, Nov. 4. Assistant Chief Rob Young said the VPD was notified of the schedule by the railroad’s own police chief – and that during the first day of the shutdown, the R.J. Corman Railroad Group paid off-duty VPD officers to conduct traffic. Young was one of the officers assisting with traffic problems at the five-way intersection at the end of North Main Street Friday around noon. The Woodford Emergency Management Department also used their “Heads Up” notification system in advance, Young said. According to an Oct. 30 news release from the state Transportation Cabinet, track and crossing maintenance was scheduled to begin at 9 a.m. Friday and be concluded the following day at 3 p.m. A photo posted on the Woodford Sun’s Facebook page Friday afternoon of backed-up traffic on Lexington Street – much of it the result of bypass detours – drew dozens of comments. One man wrote, “Extremely poor planning and coordination with local officials. Work at night or have partial closures.” Others defended the company and suggested the work could not be done at night. “I got my fair share of complaints from people who thought it was my project,” said Versailles Mayor Brian Traugott. On the Voices of Versailles Facebook page Saturday, in response to a posting of the Sun’s Friday photo, a man wrote, “I got up two hours earlier than normal and was still 30 minutes late to work.” Sunday afternoon, Nov. 3, the Sun posted another photo – this one of the turnaround on the bypass. This post, too, drew dozens of comments from frustrated drivers. “I was in it for an hour Friday afternoon and didn’t even move a mile,” a woman wrote. Late Sunday afternoon, Woodford Emergency Management Director Drew Chandler said he stopped to talk with a man who said he was a foreman on the project and told him they’d just concluded their work. The road was reopened around 7 that night. The final twist came Monday afternoon, when a Transportation Cabinet spokesperson wrote, “It’s not surprising that the railroad did not give us an update. It is actually surprising that they contacted us about the closure in the first place. Railroad companies can close tracks/crossing at their discretion at any time. The highway departments (both State & Federal) have no jurisdiction over the railroads.” On Monday, Corman spokesman Todd Bivins acknowledged a miscommunication regarding the scheduled end of the project. Bivins said the work was necessary to improve a busy crossing on the bypass and the line itself.

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