As the Norfolk Southern railroad line continues to lie vacant, weeds are overtaking the rails and thieves are literally taking them.
Newborn Mayor Roger Sheridan previously told The News that people had been seen stealing rails and ties on three separate occasions near Shady Dale. Vacant rails have long provided thieves with an opportunity to make a buck by selling the scrap metal to metal recyclers. In one case, Sheridan said a witness had seen the thieves cutting the rail into three foot sections onsite and loading them into a flat bed truck.
The problem appears to be spreading, as Porterdale Mayor Bobby Hamby said last week that a cousin of his in the city had seen people driving up and down the tracks pulling a trailer full of rails.
Neither the Jasper nor Newton county sheriff’s offices had any reported rail thefts on record recently, and the Covington Police Department could not be reached for comment Tuesday.
In related news, Covington Mayor Kim Carter decided to write a letter to Norfolk Southern officially asking them to clean the weeds from the tracks. The decision was made at the behest of the city council during its recent strategic retreat. According to Carter, the railroad company has no legal responsibility to keep the rails free from weeds, but she said Norfolk Southern has been a good partner and might help.