LTC says no to closing crossings
By Vivian Risch, Sports Editor
Liberty Town Council members said on Monday, during their regular meeting, the town will not agree to close any of its railroad crossings unless the railroad agrees to pay all of the expenses involving closure and street upgrades.
Last May, Jason Holder, Manager of Community Affairs and Safety with CSX Railroad, spoke with council members about the possible permanent closure of two of the town’s five railroad crossings. According to Holder, several of the crossings in Liberty are considered high risk crossings, and the railroad wants to reduce that risk by closing some of the crossings.
There have been three incidents at the rail crossing at Mill Street, the last of which occurred about three years ago. The issue for the railroad is safety, and the risk rate for an incident at a crossing in Liberty is unacceptable to the railroad, Holder told council members.
According to Holder, CSX and the rail department of the Indiana Department of Transportation will both fund monies to the town if it agrees to close two crossings. INDOT would pay $60,000 per crossing closed, and CSX would pay about $7,500 per crossing. Additionally, CSX would remove the crossings at no cost to the town. CSX would also upgrade the crossings at High and Seminary streets and Brownsville Ave. with lights and gates, Holder said.
Last year CSX and INDOT offered $50,000 per crossing to the town if it would close two crossings; that number has been increased by $10,000 this year.
If the crossings are closed, it would be necessary to widen and improve Railroad Street in that area to provide residents in the area better access. Holder said the railroad would like a decision on the possible closures as soon as possible.
Since that time, the town received some preliminary cost estimates from Kramer and Associates of Eaton, Ohio. According to those preliminary estimates, the cost of the road improvements on Railroad Street would be considerably more than CSX offered to pay the town.
The town recently received an email communication from CSX concerning the railroad crossings. On Monday, council instructed clerk-treasurer Cheryl Begley to reply to the CSX communication. Council told Begley to advise CSX the town cannot consider closing the crossings unless CSX is willing to cover all the costs of improving Railroad Street.
In another matter, council approved the purchase of a 2006 4x4 Ford Explorer for the police department. Cost of the vehicle is $10,500. The vehicle and signage and lighting will be paid through the general fund and MVH funds.
“We always budget for a vehicle every year, and sometimes we have to go back and take it out of the budget,” Begley said. “But this year we had to do something.”
In other business council:
*heard department head reports from the LPD, street and water department and the Liberty Volunteer Fire Department.
*approved street closures for the Health and Safety Day in May and the July 4 Festival.
*approved seeking additional funds for two properties that are being improved through a HUD housing grant. One property needs additional work due to the disability of the homeowner, and the second is in need of a new roof.
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