The Jefferson Iowa News®



Railroad Overpass Proposed for Jefferson

In what would be Jefferson's first major infrastructure change in the last 40 or so years, funds are being sought for the construction of a railroad overpass on North Elm Street (Highway 4) which would connect the north section of town with the south.

The proposal calls for 10.5 million dollars to be appropriated, beginning in 2011, with completion of the project scheduled for 2012. Civic leaders state that one of their goals is to complete the connection of North Jefferson with South Jefferson, as the tracks have kept them apart for generations. Local officials are billing this project as "the bridge to connect us".

Unfortunately, our own editors have discovered that Jefferson's north-enders are referring to it as "the bridge to nowhere". In our talks with the north-siders, it is quite apparent that they want nothing to do with this project. It seems to be entirely south-side driven. In fact, the population currently residing north of the tracks strongly told us that they prefer to be referred to as residents of Paton, not Jefferson.

They feel that they are the heart and soul of the community, home of the county's only grocery store, discount store, modern motel, lumber yard, and many of the jobs. In their own words, there is nothing south of the tracks, except bars, problems, and the police station. As one north-side resident put it, "We don't care if they park a train along those tracks permanently."

In fact, we here at Jefferson Iowa News have been the focal point of abuse over the years from folks at Paton Iowa News. They have continually poked fun of our editorial offices, located (in their opinion) on the wrong side of the tracks. While Jefferson's south side attempts to connect with the north, the north hopes to be annexed by Paton in the near future.

The population of Paton continues to mock Jefferson's efforts, pointing out that while the annual Bell Tower spelling bee may be somewhat popular, they will be featuring the Blue Angels at their own annual event this fall. Jefferson officials claim that locals prefer viewing events they are familiar with, and the local police department has all it can handle maintaining order at the spelling bee.

North siders, as well as Paton residents, told Jefferson Iowa News that the "Bell Tower rats" have been causing trouble like this for many years. It is almost like there are racial overtones associated with the divide. For example, one north-sider stated that they have been told for years that south-siders smelled badly, but although that was probably based in fact, it was not always true.

The north-side population is hoping that the south side will allow Paton to vote along with them in overturning this proposition. More on this controversial issue as it becomes available. 

Rick Bland, contributor since 2007

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