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Some Allenville residents worried about potential railroad abandonment

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Phil Thompson stands under the railroad trestle that crosses the Diversion Channel Monday, May 21, 2012 near Allenville, Mo. Thompson, a life-long resident of Allenville, has used the trestle countless times throughout his life to get supplies during floods.
(Laura Simon) [Order this photo]
The Jackson, Gordonville and Delta Railroad is planning to abandon a 13-mile section of unused tracks, and some Allenville residents are worried they will be left without an emergency flood escape route once the rail bed is removed.

The section of railway between Gordonville and Delta has not been used since 1997 and is in a dangerous state of disrepair in some sections, according to company president Robert L. Adams. At one point, he said, the railroad was approached to resume freight services and it was estimated that it would cost $1 million per mile to put it back in use.

JGD is trying to obtain approval from the U.S. Surface Transportation Board to formally abandon the stretch, which is permissible when a line has been out of service for two years. If allowed, the railroad would remove the rails, ties and other salvageable materials.

But Phil Thompson is concerned that he and others will be stranded if there is a flood should the railroad salvage the steel and wood forming the trestle that bridges the Diversion Channel near his village.

Thompson, a lifelong resident of Allenville, said that there have been 12 floods there since 1973. During flooding in 1993 and again in 1995, he said, there were about six weeks when roads were impassable and the trestle was used as a primary method to transport supplies into and out of the area.

Phil Thompson walks under the railroad trestle that crosses the Diversion Channel Monday, May 21, 2012 near Allenville, Mo. Thompson, a life-long resident of Allenville, has used the trestle countless times throughout his life to get supplies during floods.
(Laura Simon)
Most recently Allenville was hit by flooding last spring and in spring 2008.

Although boats are an option when water is high, Thompson said using them in emergency situations "scares the daylights" out of many people, who feel more secure walking across the trestle. Hearing that it might be removed makes people nervous, he said.

"It's just a concern with everybody in town," Thompson said.

Cape Girardeau County was approached by JGD to give input on whether there are any historical or environmental reasons why the line, which lies on private land, should be preserved. After county study, the commission approved a formal letter Monday saying no reason was found on those grounds to impede abandonment. Beyond that, the county has no authority to intervene.

The stretch of railway was part of the Iron Mountain Road, organized by the state legislature in 1851 to carry supplies of iron ore from Iron Mountain to the Mississippi River and other areas. It was later reorganized as the St. Louis Iron Mountain & Southern Railway and in 1917 merged with the Missouri Pacific Railroad. In 1984, just more than 18 miles of the line was bought by the Jackson Industrial Development Co., which sold its portion to the Jackson, Gordonville and Delta Railroad Co. in 1993.

Associate Commissioner Jay Purcell said earlier this month that he'd like to investigate the possibility of converting the rail bed into walking and biking areas, similar to the 237-mile Katy Trail, which was also created from abandoned rail lines. However, discussion of the county taking on such a "rails to trails" project was curtailed due to cost and maintenance considerations.

The final decision will lie with the federal Surface Transportation Board, which is expected to have an answer within 50 days of the railroad's May 14 application.

Meanwhile, Adams said Monday that no Allenville residents have contacted JGD. He said that the bridge is in such poor condition that he would advise against anyone walking or driving a vehicle across it, for safety reasons. However, he'd be willing to talk with the village about available options.

"We'll work with Allenville any way we can," Adams said.

The Surface Transportation Board didn't immediately respond to requests for more information made Monday afternoon.



Pertinent address:

Allenville, MO

Jackson, MO

Delta, MO

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I just can't help but believe that this will, some how, end up getting in the taxpayers pocket.

And come on Jay, a walking trail between Gordonville and Delta? Why?

-- Posted by malan on Tue, May 22, 2012, at 7:23 AM

The Allenville residents should purchase the bridge and necessary easements for egress to public road.

-- Posted by insider63785 on Tue, May 22, 2012, at 8:27 AM

I think they're trying to cash in on scrap steel values. At maybe 140 tons of steel per mile plus trestles and such, my rough math pegs it at close to a million dollars worth of scrap, minus removal costs.

Only problem is that once the track is gone, it's gone forever. No chance of restoration for revenue from freight use. No chance of getting those right-of-ways back. Very short-sighted and it will cost in the long run if they scrap it.

-- Posted by micahmcdowell on Tue, May 22, 2012, at 9:40 AM

Make it into a recreation bike trail. There are funds for that.

-- Posted by Grit on Tue, May 22, 2012, at 9:49 AM

The KATY trail allows horseback riding around the Clinton, MO portion. Emergency vehicles can also enter the trail. Because of the tourism trade - there has been a revival of the some of the very small communities that dot the trail. The KATY trail is a state park. If this became a bike trail - with the population of Cape and Jackson growing - it would be used and Gordonville and Allentown residents would benefit economically. The right of way would remain if converted.

-- Posted by Grit on Tue, May 22, 2012, at 10:47 AM

Here are aerial photos I took of the bridge in the fall of 2010. I'll have to go back to see it before it goes on the scrap heap.


-- Posted by Ken1 on Tue, May 22, 2012, at 11:25 PM

The Irom Mountain Ry. woule like to install a switch in Delta to store freight cars all the way to Gordonville to earn income. We can store cars at up to $3.00 per car per day. that money will halp the local economy and bring in revenue to help rebuild the railroad.

-- Posted by toytrain on Wed, May 23, 2012, at 2:36 AM

Thw volenteers fo the tourist operater the StLouis Iron Mountain Ry.,hav for the last 7 years have been trying to rebuild the line,Jumping from Delta to Jackson trying to rebuild with little to no funding. We have sprayed the track for weeds, cleared trees,replaced ties.cleared crossings th get work trains and equipment through. Was trying to gwt to Waillams Creek at HY25 and County road 228 near Zion church to fix the first out of 4 washouts to try and reopen more of the line to at least get the denner train a longer trip. And clean up the debres agist the bridge and FIX the first wahsout before we can reopen any ferther.

-- Posted by toytrain on Wed, May 23, 2012, at 2:53 AM

The Jackson Gordonville and Delta railroad will have to pay for enviormental cleanup after the track is puilld up. Anybody think of them can of worms?

-- Posted by toytrain on Wed, May 23, 2012, at 2:57 AM

Anybody want to buy out Bob Anams share of the track out for a half of million dollars?

-- Posted by toytrain on Wed, May 23, 2012, at 3:03 AM

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Map of pertinent addresses