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Pro and con: Marshall council hears views on proposal to close 2 railroad crossings

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

(Photo)
An early-morning motorist crosses the Kansas City Southern railroad tracks at North Jefferson Avenue in Marshall Wednesday, Jan. 23. The crossing is one of two -- the other is at North Lyon Avenue -- that railroad and state transportation officials propose closing permanently. The Marshall City Council held a public hearing Tuesday, Jan. 22, to hear the pros and cons of closing the crossings.
(Eric Crump/Democrat-News)
Editor's note: This story is the first of a series that will look more closely at the reasons for closing two railroad crossings in Marshall and the possible impact the closings will have on local residents and businesses.

The Marshall City Council met Tuesday, Jan. 22, and held a public hearing to hear comments and concerns regarding the proposed permanent closing of the Kansas City Southern (KCS) crossings at North Jefferson Avenue and North Lyon Avenue.

With residents and business owners of Marshall and Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT) and KCS personnel attending the hearing, there was a lot of "good" communication going on in the open public hearing, according to Bruce Miller, Federal Railroad Administration's (FRA) signal and train inspector.

The hearing lasted about an hour and a half with both sides presenting their concerns. A time for questions and answers followed.

Mayor Connie Latimer commended everyone at the hearing for contributing their concerns.

"They have very valid concerns (MoDOT and KCS) and so do you (residents and businesses of Marshall)," she said.

At the meeting presenting concerns about closing the two city streets were Jim Riley, owner of housing properties in the 700 block of North Odell Avenue; Larry Morgan representing Gencom Inc.; Mike Fowler, local trucking distributor; Mike Mills, concerned citizen; John Fletcher, Central Missouri Agri-Services regional manager; and Brian Berlin, also representing Central Missouri Agri-Services.

To answer questions about the closings were Rod Massman, MoDOT administrator of railroads; Don Schwartze, MoDOT railroad safety specialist; Mike McGrath, MoDOT area engineer; Rick Mooney, KCS; Charles Schaffer, KCS general signal supervisor; Bennie Howe, FRA's regional manager for grade crossing safety and trespass prevention; and Miller.

After lots of discussion, there was no disagreement among participants that improvements need to be made. The main problem was the economic effect of the closings on businesses critical to Marshall development.

The warning system for the KCS track was installed in 1979 and is inadequate compared to the system today, which includes LED lights and gates, according to Schaffer.

Miller said the improvements are critical because it "will save a life somewhere." He added that it is better than a death or having to evacuate the whole town because of a hazardous spill.

Massman said, "It's just like all the towns we have been to. No one says, 'Hey, this is great, close our streets.'"

Vince Lutterbie, Ward 2, asked, "If the city chose to close those crossings and we find out it wasn't in the best interest, how hard would it be to reopen the crossings?"

After discussion on the process of closing the crossings, Massman said it would practically be irreversible.

Contact Rachel Harper at marshallcity@socket.net


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The city needs fight this with all the enthusiasm they seem to find for dog parks and community centers. Letting the railroad close a street every time they don't want to upgrade a crossing is bad policy.

-- Posted by outsider on Wed, Jan 23, 2008, at 3:33 PM


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