Railroad crossing repairs continue in West Frankfort

Union Pacific crews work on the railroad crossing at St. Louis Street in West Frankfort.

Union Pacific crews work on the railroad crossing at St. Louis Street in West Frankfort.

Union Pacific crews are in West Frankfort this week working on two particularly rough railroad crossings.

Workers completed half of the work on St. Louis Street Monday and will continue work at that intersection Tuesday, as well as begin work on the Cleveland Street crossing.

West Frankfort Street Commissioner Tara Fasol-Chambers said the work consists of raising the track and putting fill underneath to keep it raised to the same level as the road.

Fasol-Chambers said she she believes the Main Street railroad crossing also needs repairs. She has asked the Illinois Department of Transportation to make that request of Union Pacific, as IDOT makes the decision when to close Main Street, rather than the city.

Work should be completed Tuesday, but may stretch into Wednesday as rain is in the forecast.


W.F. railroad crossing work to commence later this month


Union Pacific Railroad crews will be in West Frankfort later this month to make repairs to railroad crossings at Cleveland and St. Louis streets. The work will begin Jan. 21, according to Street Commissioner Tara Fasol-Chambers.

Fasol-Chambers told the West Frankfort City Council that the work will result in the roads being blocked for five hours on that date, unless the weather prevents the work from being done then.

At the first city council meeting of the year Tuesday night, commissioners also discussed the next steps in the electric aggregation process. West Frankfort has joined with eight other Southern Illinois cities to buy electricity as a larger group. Bids for the electricity are expected today, and Mayor Tom Jordan will be participating in a conference call about them with the mayors of the other cities involved. The council continued its meeting to 10 a.m. Thursday to hear from Jordan about the bids.

In other action, commissioners:

  • Approved the payment of city bills totaling $144,762.07.
  • Approved a payment to Larry Grimm Auto for $2,145 for tire and brake work on one of the city’s ambulances.
  • Approved a payment of $2,900 for roof repairs at the city’s Public Service Building. Commissioner Jerry Harkins said the repairs fixed some leaks in the roof that were occurring around the building’s heating and air conditioning units.
  • Agreed to spend $2,026 to replace 2 front tires on one of the city’s backhoes and 2 front and 2 rear tires on a second backhoe. The low bid was from Hammer’s Tires in West Frankfort.
  • Approved a building permit for Brandon Smith, who wants to add a 22×24 office addition to the former dance studio on East Main Street that he is converting into an auto body shop.
  • Fire and Police Commissioner Jerry Harkins commended the West Frankfort Police Department and Chief Jeff Tharp for the active shooter training the department conducted recently at Frankfort Community High School.
  • Commissioner Tara Fasol-Chambers reported that progress is being made on a project to extend sidewalks for three blocks on Ninth Street where children walk to Central Junior High School and Frankfort Intermediate School. The owners of the final home that must grant an easement for the sidewalk have been located. Fasol-Chambers said they are amenable to the project, and she is working with City Attorney Mike Riva to wrap up easement paperwork. The next step in the process will be leveling the area out – a big undertaking, she said.
  • Commissioners discussed the condition of the former Ken Gray Museum in the Heights. Fasol-Chambers, who lives near the building, said that the recent snow and rain seems to have taken a further toll on it. The front of the brick building bows out toward Main Street. City Codes Inspector Ed Hammonds told commissioners that he had been in contact with the building’s owner, and would talk with him again about the building’s condition. Fasol-Chambers expressed concern that the building would fall into Main Street at some point. Hammonds quipped, “It’s not going to fall; it’s going to explode.”
  • Mayor Tom Jordan said work with the school board on a proposed land swap in the city is ongoing. The city will be scheduling public hearings about the land swap soon.


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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