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Bladenboro to get passive rail crossings upgraded at no cost

Work on repaving Main Street in Bladenboro was recently completed by the N.C. Department of Transportation, and folks are singing the praises of the smooth ride through downtown.Now, Bladenboro’s four passive rail crossings can be upgraded at no cost to the town, according to Jason Field, who is a project engineer with Moffatt & Nichol of Raleigh.

“You all have a rare opportunity that NCDOT Rail Division is looking to fund something with absolutely no strings attached, no gotchas or anything like that,” Field told the Bladenboro Board of Commissioners on Monday during its regular monthly meeting.

Field said NCDOT decided to use federal funding in about 200 smaller communities in the state that have passive rail crossings. A passive crossing does not have warning lights, flashers or gates.

The work includes repairing, replacing or refreshing the advance warning pavement markings with the X on the pavement and installing yield signs, which is a new regulation, Field said. After the work has been completed, it will continue to be the town’s responsibility to maintain it, he said.

Bladenboro has two passive crossings on Pine Ridge Circle and one each on Grief Street and Fourth Street.

Main Street reopened Sunday after NCDOT spent the past couple of months repairing and repaving the road.

“I want to really, really, really compliment you, Mayor (Rufus Duckworth), because of this street paving situation,” Don White said to the board during the open forum session of the meeting. “As a resident of Main Street and not having gone through that nightmare before, I could only imagine what it was going to be like. But it was nothing like that. It went smooth as silk. There was no damage done to any of the trees. Workers were very professional. They cleaned up after themselves. I think the job went smoothly. I do appreciate the mayor sticking in there and getting that done.”

Board members also were complimentary of the repaving work and lauded Duckworth for continuing to press the project to NCDOT.

“There was a lot of work that went into it, and I’m sure our mayor was a leading force up front driving that,” Commissioner Terry Nance said. “I think he’s the reason we got our Main Street paved and, for that, I’m truly indebted to you.”

“Kudos to our mayor,” Commissioner Jeff Atkinson said. “Now, I can ride to work with no bumps.”

“I’m glad Main Street is over. I have bugged DOT to death, to say the least,” Duckworth said. “I think (DOT) may never talk to me again.”

Later, the board went into closed session for 1 hour and 43 minutes to discuss personnel matters. Upon returning to open session, the board approved the hiring of Steven Singletary of Bladenboro in the maintenance department at a starting salary of $21,825, and approved increasing maintenance director Andy Coleman’s salary from $34,787 to $35,551.

In other business:

** Tabled consideration of granting Dawson Singletary access to property he owns near the town’s wastewater treatment plant. Singletary is unable to access the land without going on town property.

** Approved updating the Local Jobs Initiative Section 3 plan and the Meaningful Communication with Persons with Limited English Proficiency as part of a Community Development Block Grant requirement.

** Approved two budget amendments totaling $13,633.14 for the fire station. An amount of $5,120 was money received from NorthStar Energy for assisting Piedmont Natural Gas and will be used for vehicle maintenance and repair. An amount of $8,513.14 was money appropriated from FEMA funds for furnishing the station.

** Approved construction of a steel frame for the scoreboard at McLean Park.

The board’s next scheduled meeting is Sept. 14 at Town Hall on Ivey Street at 7 p.m. The meeting is open to the public.

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