Repairs make ride smoother over Varnado railroad tracks

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, April 10, 2013

With repairs completed, Varnado residents now have a smoother ride over the railroad tracks that cross Main Street.

There had been an issue with the railroad tracks for quite a while, Mayor Paris Sumrall said.

The wooden timbers that support the rails were rotting, and cars would experience a bump each time they passed over the tracks.

“It was getting to the point where the wood was going to completely break and hit a car,” she said.

Also, some potholes had developed in the asphalt over the years, slowing motorists down.

“We didn’t have to worry about anybody speeding,” Sumrall joked. “It was a very efficient speed bump.”

Alderman Joe Nichols contacted the Canadian railroad company, CN, and the response was immediate.

“They got right on it,” Sumrall said. “They actually came during spring break and closed the road for only one day and repaired it. It’s good to go, absolutely in great shape now.”

The wooden timbers and rails were replaced, and the track area was asphalted again. The railroad was fantastic to work with, Sumrall said.

“I was impressed with their efficiency and the speed at which they responded to our request,” she said, also expressing a thank you to railroad representative Ron Weger.

The railroad company paid for and completed the work, took care of the road closure, and notified all the underground utilities companies to mark their lines, Sumrall said. The work involved a number of machines and was quickly wrapped up by six to eight workers, she said.

The railroad is located in the middle Varnado on a spur of Louisiana Highway 436, a fairly busy traffic area. Sumrall said the track is in use, and a train passes through twice a day, early in the morning and late in the afternoon.

There was a minor one-day inconvenience to residents during the repairs, as those who live on the east side of the tracks had to detour about one mile to get to the village’s stores or to Louisiana Highway 21, Sumrall said.

The work was done during spring break so there would be no impact on school bus routes.

Sumrall said the repairs were needed because there was a possibility of cars being damaged or of accidents being caused.

The repaired tracks are safer for the community and improve the village’s infrastructure, she said.

Sumrall said when she became mayor 12 years ago there was limited funding. Slowly but surely, she said, improvements are being made, and she is proud of the village’s progress.

More work is on the way for the area around the tracks. Sumrall said a ditch there drains from north of Varnado and down the railroad tracks to Pushepatapa Creek.

The drainage needs to be improved, and the DOTD will be installing a larger culvert, or possibly two side-by-side culverts, about 20 feet west of the tracks.

She anticipates that project will be completed by June.