BENTON - Scott County officials are contacting the Union Pacific Railroad with safety concerns related to an imminent increase in train traffic through the county.
During the regular county commission meeting Tuesday, Joel Evans, county developer, presented commissioners with a draft of a letter to be sent to the railroad.
"Our opinion remains that the Union Pacific track exchange will unnecessarily endanger the citizens of Scott County by moving traffic from routes designed and accustomed to high-volume train traffic to routes unprepared and unacquainted with the dangers of high-volume train traffic," the letter states in closing.
The railroad's tracks run through "several county road intersections and several city street intersections" in and around the Sikeston, Chaffee, Oran and Rockview communities, according to Commissioner Jamie Burger. Officials have been advised rail traffic is slated to be increased by at least a dozen trains per day bringing the total up from 10 trains per day to 22 or more.
"And they will be running faster once they get OK'd," added Presiding Commissioner Martin Priggel.
A copy of a Standard Democrat news article detailing how a Department of Public Safety officer was injured earlier this month while backup was unable to reach him due to a train on Union Pacific's tracks will also be included with the letter.
Commissioner Dennis Ziegenhorn said Sikeston has already given permission for the railroad to cut through the power plant because the railroad is working on a side rail. These tracks are close to several schools and nursing homes, he noted.
Ziegenhorn also noted this is the first major task Evans has been asked to pursue since becoming full-time as of Monday.
In other county business:
* Sheriff Rick Walter advised commissioners air-conditioning units at the jail may be doing more work than they were designed to do.
One air-conditioning vendor has reportedly advised installing oilers on the existing compressors that are now running constantly while another vendor has recommended purchasing heavier-duty compressors.
Walter said if all the compressors do need to be replaced, it would be better to replace them all at once to save on the cost of renting a crane to put them on the roof.
* Commissioners will review bids for trimming eight of the trees around the courthouse before making a decision.
Bids were submitted from Dewayne McAlister's Tree Service of Cape Girardeau for $1,700 and Gene's Tree Service of Sikeston for $1,125.