Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Hays: Neosho must close crossings

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Hays: Neosho must close crossings | Railway Track & Structures

The city of Neosho, Mo., has no recourse other than to close two railroad crossings, City Attorney Steve Hays told the council Nov. 3, The Neosho Daily News reports. Mayor Pro Tem Richard Davidson asked the council to authorize Hays to speak to the Missouri Department of Transportation and Kansas City Southern Railway Company to see what alternatives there were, if any, to closing crossings at Daugherty Road and Park Street. Essentially, Hays told the council that they had no alternatives.



"I made contact with MoDOT and spoke to an individual who had the authorization to discuss this with me," Hays told the council, although he added he did not have the name of the person he spoke with at Tuesday's meeting. "I explained the political ramifications. His comment was, first, there are always political casualties when you close a road. He said he understood that, he had closed a number of roads in the state, and there was never a time when there wasn't. The bottom line is the roads will not be reopened. He said the roads were voted on by the council and they were a done deal. MoDOT will not be coming back to the city of Neosho asking for more roads to be closed."



Hays said the MoDOT representative told him that work to close the crossing would not begin until spring, and likely would not be finished until late next summer or early next fall.



Hays said he also sent e-mails to Kansas City Southern, but officials there did not respond to them.



"I don't like to assume, but my guess is they don't want to get into that discussion," he said.



Rhonda Warren, who collected several hundred signatures on a petition to keep Daugherty Road open, said before the council heard from Hays that the city should conduct a traffic study on the South Street overpass when it opens to the public before moving ahead on closing crossings.



And council member Heather Bowers, during discussion, concurred, saying the city was obligated by municipal codes and the city charter to conduct traffic studies on the crossings before they were slated for closure. She said the contracts the city had with MoDOT and the railroad stipulate this.



"We don't even have an engineer, and they were putting in the contract that the city was doing engineer services," she said. "Traffic studies are required."



"The question is not if this council can undo what a former council decided," said Mayor Pro Tem Richard Davidson, who moderated the meeting in the absence of Mayor Jeff Werneke.


Kansas City Southern Railway proposes to install flashing light signals and gates at railroad crossings on Washington Avenue and College, Spring and McKinney streets at a cost of $961,000. The Missouri Department of Transportation will pay 80 percent, while the railroad will pick up the remaining 20 percent. MoDOT will also provide an additional $220,000 to close crossings at Park Street, Daugherty Road and Industrial Drive, with the railroad adding $135,000 for the three closures.

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