Archive for Thursday, March 13, 2003

City considers new railroad crossing

March 13, 2003

Edwardsville is at a crossroads.

Well, actually, the City Council is at a railroad crossing.

Edwardsville is literally split by the Union Pacific railroad tracks that run east and west through the city.

Emergency response time to the northern section of the city has been a problem.

Passing trains often block the two main streets, Fourth and Ninth, which police and fire departments use to go from the south stations to the north.

The only alternate route around the railroad tracks is east on Woodend Road to Interstate 435.

City Engineer John Bayless presented plans to the City Council Monday, March 10, for a third intersection that would run south of Fourth Street, using an existing street in the Edwardsville mobile home park.

He drew up the plans at the request of Council member Ed Gillette.

However, a few minutes discussion, revealed that new intersection would not accomplish what the city needs -- a way around the tracks when a train comes through town.

The alternatives are either to go over or under the tracks, which would make using the street south of Fourth inadequate.

"There isn't enough space for the necessary elevation and there would be a flooding problem if you went under because it would be below the creek elevation," Bayless said.

There's also a matter of costs. Building a bridge would cost more than $1 million. Going under would be expensive, but would be less than building a bridge, Bayless said.

Gillette said the city needed to do something, especially in light of the recent train derailment.

He suggested that Edwardsville do something similar to Olathe, that has a street going under one of its railroad tracks.

Olathe railroad problems are more extensive than Edwardsville. The downtown is cut off by railroad tracks on the west and east and a spur line to the south.

Olathe has one street going under the tracks near downtown. However, the underpass is old, and has a low clearance, which prevents larger trucks from using the street.

The other bypasses are two bridges on Old 56 Highway. One is a large viaduct that was built with state funding. The other is a bridge the railroad built to cross the highway.

"We have to do something because it's a matter of public safety," Gillette said.

Bayless will look at areas where a street can be extended under the railroad tracks. He will bring his findings to the council for further discussion.

In other action, the council:

  • Approved a proposal to hire Parks n' Sons Trucking to repair damaged drainage and land in River City Park.
  • Heard an update on the gravity sewer line project. Phase one of the project, which runs along Betts creek from Woodend to Kansas Highway 32, will begin construction in the summer.
  • Tabled a bid to install a sprinkler system for the soccer fields at Edwardsville City Park. The council will have a public hearing on the matter at 6:30 p.m. March 24. Council members will also discuss whether to expand City Hall.
  • Approved a request to sponsor a Veterans Appreciation Campaign. The campaign will recognize those persons in the armed forces by publishing their photo, personal information and information as to where public can send letters or care packages. The campaign is still being coordinated and further information will be published when the campaign is underway.
  • Contributed $1,000 to the Bonner Springs High School Project Graduation party for graduating seniors.
  • Postponed making a decision on the extended contract for MAST ambulance services. The contract will extend MAST services in the city up to July 1, 2004.

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