Railroad to fix rough crossings in W.F.


Repair crews will begin patching rough areas on the railroad crossings at Cleveland and St. Louis streets within the next two weeks, according to West Frankfort City Commissioner Tara Fasol-Chambers.

After fielding calls from local residents complaining about the tracks and potential damage to vehicles, Fasol-Chambers met with Union Pacific Railroad officials, who conducted an inspection of the railroad crossings in the city. The railroad company is responsible for maintenance of the tracks, not the city.

Although the concrete areas surrounding the tracks are periodically inspected, repaired and replaced, Southern Illinois weather is not conducive to their long-term condition. The cycles of freezing, thawing, heat and moisture cause areas to weaken and crumble under normal traffic patterns.

Following the inspection, commissioner Chambers announced that repair crews would be patching the affected areas in the next week or two. The patching should be enough to keep the crossings intact throughout the winter. Next spring, additional reconstruction work will be done on a larger scale.

The crossings at Cleveland and St. Louis streets will be blocked on a short-term basis during the work when necessary.

West Frankfort official to meet with railroad about rough crossings

Rough railroad crossings have been a concern for drivers in West Frankfort for some time, and now a city commissioner says that while the matter hasn’t been resolved as quickly as she’d like, progress is finally being made.

“Efforts to have several of these crossings addressed for maintenance has gone on for a number of months now but I finally have a meeting set with representatives for Union Pacific and I’m confident getting them here to walk the tracks and talk about improvements is a good first step in the right direction,” Streets and Public Improvements Commissioner Tara Fasol-Chambers said. “Unfortunately, there isn’t much the city can do about railroad tracks. We can’t fix them and the railroad has easement on the actual roadway adjoining the tracks, as well. What we can do is ask and urge them to make needed fixes, and that’s what we have been doing.”

Fasol-Chambers said the meeting just before Thanksgiving Day should secure the necessary steps for getting the tracks fixed. She said she also hopes it is a step toward a better working relationship between the city and Union Pacific.

“This hasn’t been the ideal situation, by far, and I’d really like to create a better line of communication so that problems in the future can be handled in a more timely fashion,” she said. “We all learned a hard lesson a few years ago when efforts to have stop arms installed dragged out for more than a year and were only met after the death of one of our residents. That can never happen again. We must have the ability to contact them when needed and them to contact us when needed so that safety concerns are met quickly. We need the ability to be proactive about our approach to addressing those concerns. These are more than just ‘rough’ crossings as they have been labeled, in my opinion. They are a danger to motorists and that’s not acceptable.”

Fasol-Chambers said she is happy to see progress moving forward on efforts to have the tracks fixed and asks that residents continue to be patient and cautious in the meantime.

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