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Lula looking at potential fixes to railroad tunnel
0819LULA
Officials are looking at possible improvements to a narrow, graffiti-laden tunnel under tracks on Homer Road, which juts off Main Street.

With repairs planned for Cobb Street bridge, Lula is turning its attention to another, nearby railroad crossing — this one running under Norfolk Southern tracks.

Officials are looking at possible improvements to a narrow, graffiti-laden tunnel under tracks on Homer Road, jutting off Main Street in what is a link from one side of town to the other.

Hall County Fire Services, along with Hall County officials, “is currently evaluating the turning and size requirements of this intersection as it pertains to public safety operations,” Fire Services spokesman Zachary Brackett said Thursday.

“Information is still being gathered and no opinion has been reached by our agency at this time,” he added.

The efforts are being done at the request of Lula City Manager Dennis Bergin, who spoke Monday night to City Council about the matter.

“What you may want to choose is an avenue that helps you define the need,” he said. “At this point, that’s still up in the air. We haven’t gotten the information in to determine what the need is.

“And once you’ve established the need, my recommendation strongly is to get some preliminary engineering.”

One possible option is “a direct drop in the road levels to accommodate the fire trucks or improvements on the radius,” Bergin said.

“We need to get an answer out of the railroad first and foremost because (the tunnel) is on their right of way, and we all know they’re not as quick to respond as we’d all would like,” he said. “Experience has taught us that — not a criticism, just reality.

“But they’ve been helpful in some regards. Let’s see if they can help us this way.”

Norfolk Southern spokesman Rick Harris said Lula “has asked Norfolk Southern to provide some information about the Homer Road underpass as it might relate to roadway improvements on the Main Street side of the underpass.

Earlier this summer, the railroad agreed to fix the Cobb Street bridge, a wooden structure that has spanned tracks downtown for decades.

Norfolk Southern is replacing six timber beams supporting the bridge deck and one timber post.

The bridge closed in October after failing a Georgia Department of Transportation inspection. It was also previously closed from April 2011 to October 2012 for a similar issue.

In early July, officials said it would take at least 30 days for materials to come in and that a timetable for the work will be known at that time. Harris said the materials have been shipped and are expected to be received soon.

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