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MURPHYSBORO — Claiming city employees maintained and otherwise took care of a street and property adjoining a stretch of train track, Murphysboro city officials are planning to claim prescriptive easement to the property.

Murphysboro Mayor Will Stephens made the announcement at the city council meeting on Tuesday night, indicating that is how city officials plan to respond to Union Pacific railroad, which is claiming ownership to that section of North 23rd Street — a two-block stretch of street that some residents apparently, for years, never realized the railroad company was laying claim to.

He said the records indicate the city had maintained the street through its  oil and chip program and mowed the right of way for at least the past 11 years, four to six times years.

"I think they (city attorneys) feel that we have the ability to pursue a prescriptive easement," the mayor said.

The city also has it own set of problems with what to do about a request from Union Pacific railroad to remove water main piping from the southern end of the 23rd Street train trestle bridge overpass; the railroad company is planning some construction at the trestle, part of a multi-million dollar, multistate project.

The mayor said he had been discussing cutting off the water main instead of removing it.

Mayor Stephens said the city's engineering department had found records dating back to 1991 indicating city employees had maintained the area off North 23rd Street, with grass cutting and snow removal, as well as other work.

The city attorney's suggested taking that information to the railroad company officials and talking with them about how to resolve the issue. He spoke against entering a lease with the company, which he said could terminate the agreement with 30 days notice.

The discussions come a few weeks after the city council and city administrators were made aware of the railroad's request to remove the water main pipe and its claims to the 23rd Street property, telling property owners they they could be charged with trespassing for using the street to access their properties.

The mayor said the city was not necessarily defending the rights of property owners, home owners and business owners, off North 23rd Street.

He said city officials were mainly concerned about protecting city streets.

"The city (is concerned with) city streets and as a side effect, it is our hope that our residents see a benefit of that," and be able to get to and from their homes.

stephanie.esters@thesouthern.com

618-351-5805

On Twitter: @scribeest

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Reporter

Stephanie Esters is a reporter covering Jackson and Union counties.

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