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Thursday, October 01, 2009

KCS, LADOTD improve public safety at crossings

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On October 7, 2009, The Kansas City Southern Railway Company will close the Booth Street crossing in Monroe, La. This crossing closure is part of a five-year, multi-million dollar corridor project agreement between KCS and the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development to improve public safety at grade crossings across Louisiana and in Monroe.


In the interest of public safety, closing the Booth Street crossing is the right thing to do; however, the jurisdiction to close public crossings - like the decision to install gates and traffic signs - belongs to state or local officials, not KCS.

As part of the corridor project, numerous meetings were held with the City of Monroe about improving public safety at crossings, including Booth Street. Upgrades and improvements at nearby crossings, including an overpass and a crossing with flashers and gates have made the Booth Street crossing redundant.

Initially, the City of Monroe rebuffed requests to close the Booth Street crossing, saying time was needed to advise the community. Later, the issue was put off with the City telling KCS that the crossing itself, though located in a city street, belonged to Ouachita Parish, not the City.

The Parish has since indicated no objection to the closure of the crossing clearing the way for KCS to do just that on October 7. As a courtesy to the City of Monroe, because a city street will be affected by the closure of a crossing located in the parish, KCS also requested the City's consent. The Mayor of Monroe presented such a consent letter to the Monroe City Council on September 22. That consent failed to pass. Because the crossing is in Ouachita Parish, the City's consent is not needed to close the crossing. Therefore, KCS will proceed with the crossing closure.

Together, the state and KCS have spent well over a million dollars each year since 2006 to support projects that directly impact public safety in the City of Monroe. In 1998, before this work was done, there were 31 collisions at public at-grade crossings in the rail subdivision at issue, but since this work was done, that number has dropped to five to date this year, two of which were at flasher and gate crossings. KCS hopes to reduce that number even further by getting the crossing at Booth Street in Monroe closed.

KCS has continually worked with LADOTD and the City of Monroe to advance a plan to improve traffic control devices at crossings and to close those that are unnecessary, improving public safety. KCS will continue to promote public safety through its efforts with the LADOTD as well as local.

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