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Railroad maintenance work at the crossing on County Road 52 between Pelham and Helena is expected to halt traffic flow starting this weekend. (Martin J. Reed / mreed@al.com)

PELHAM, Alabama -- Pelham and Helena officials are making preparations to handle the anticipated temporary closure of railroad crossings on at least three routes used by motorists to travel between the two cities this weekend.

Pelham received notification from CSX Railroad that crosstie replacement and maintenance work is planned for the crossings at County Road 52 at Lee Street and another at Stonehaven Trail in Pelham on Sunday. The work is expected to last from 6 a.m. to as late as midnight on both crossings, which would prevent motorists from traveling through the routes.

The City of Helena is warning about the railroad crossing at Highway 261 in Old Town closing for repairs from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Saturday. All traffic will be diverted at the Post Office intersection onto County Road 52 toward Pelham during the planned construction.

Old Town will be accessible during the railroad work, but Helena officials are recommending that motorists traveling into town from the Pelham side of Highway 261 to use Highway 105/Lee Street.

Mayor Gary Waters at Monday night's City Council meeting said the work could "close both of our primary crossings ... so your plans to go to Helena are going to be greatly affected by this."

Pelham emergency officials are taking steps to prepare for the anticipated closures that will disrupt traffic flow along the main arteries connecting the city with Helena.

Pelham Fire Chief Danny Ray said his department will have manpower strategically positioned to respond to emergencies. "We're going to set up an engine crew or a crew on the west side of the tracks temporarily for the period of time that it's closed," he said.

Ray said he will plan for handling emergencies with Helena Fire Chief John Wilder and Alabaster Fire Chief Jim Golden. "What we'll do is we'll use aid from both of those departments for that area over there," he said.

The railroad work will affect Helena's ability to respond to emergencies north of the Highway 261 railroad crossing. "Everything north of that crossing on 261, we will handle it" during the railroad maintenance work, Ray said. "It's a reciprocal kind of thing."

Pelham Police Chief Tommy Thomas said cooperation with Helena will be crucial during the railroad crossing closures. "We work closely with Helena. We have a good working relationship with Helena PD," he said. "We'll do support for them. ... We've done this before."

Additionally, the Pelham Police Department will have officers located in positions where they can respond to all emergencies, Thomas said. "We'll put additional officers on the other side of the railroad tracks and keep them over there until the construction is over," he said.

Thomas said he expects electronic signage will be placed in the areas of the closures to give warning to motorists.

Anyone with questions or concerns can contact CSX at 1-800-232-0144.

Reporter's note: Updated at 11:38 a.m. on Nov. 19, 2013, with the latest information on the construction schedule provided by the City of Pelham.


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