Railroad crossing debate continues

BLYTHEVILLE, AR (KAIT) - The city of Blytheville held a meeting Monday night to discuss an ongoing debate. Close the railroad crossing on Cherry Street, or keep it open?

According to Blytheville Mayor James Sanders, the city was approached by Burlington Northern Santa Fe and Arkansas highway officials back in November.

Sanders said the organizations had safety concerns about the railroad crossing on Cherry Street.

A test conducted by the highway department also revealed a hazard rating of 9.025; which is considered too high for a train to go through that area.

Since January, the train increased in speed from 20 to 60 mph through the area; which Sanders said raised concerns about future accidents.

"One of the problems that we've seen is when a train comes into that area, there's three other streets that are impacted," he said. "It's not as hazardous now or as troublesome now because of the schools being closed. But, in the mornings during school traffic, usually folks are trying to take their children to school; and if a train is in that area, it can close down the railings and prevent crossing at either McHaney Street or Sawyer Street Crossing."

To reduce the hazard, Sanders said BNSF is looking to add safety guards to protect citizens; but the city isn't completely sold on the idea.

"We're not going out and trying to make any promises to either the railroad company or the highway department," he said. "I thank the council for actually taking the time to explore and to look at the facts of what it takes to close it and the impact that it will have in that area."

Sanders said if they decided to move forward with the project, the funding to put the crossguards on Cherry Street will be done by the Arkansas highway department.

However, the mayor said further discussion with the city council will determine what action the city takes.

Copyright 2017 KAIT. All rights reserved.

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