Commonwealth Journal

Local News

December 11, 2012

It’s official: West Columbia Street railroad crossing will close

(Continued)

Somerset —

“This way there would be an option to revisit it at some point,” Beasley said.
Girdler said the city is receiving compensation from the state and from Norfolk Southern for the closure, and he said the city can place signs and even lights at the crossing to warn pedestrians of an oncoming train. 
Many residents in the West Columbia area regularly make the trek by foot to U.S. 27.
Wheeldon said he agreed that the crossing was a dangerous one, but he asked that the council look into providing residents there other ways to access major roads in the city by the time the closure goes into effect in February.
“Everybody I’ve talked to over there, they’re concerned about the life saving deal but they’re also ... (asking) ‘how do we get out of here?’” Wheeldon said. 
Wheeldon said residents in the West Columbia area try to avoid accessing U.S. 27 and Ky. 80 by way of Ogden Street. Park Avenue and Beck Street, both connectors located between West Columbia and Ogden, can be difficult to pull out from, especially amid heavy traffic. Wheeldon said the steep incline of Park Avenue is especially dangerous. 
“Most of them, that’s the reason they go across the railroad because it (the Park Avenue-Ogden intersection) is so unsafe,” Wheeldon said. “... You won’t find a more dangerous place because you have to pull up into the street 20 feet before you can see anything.” 
Wheeldon said he’s worried the West Columbia closure will send more people to the Ogden Street-Park Avenue intersection. 
Girdler said the city would look into placing its own warning lights and signs at the Ogden Street intersection and he said the city’s engineers would look at the situation as well. 
“I’m all for closing it because of the safety of our people,” Wheeldon said. “It’d be hard to sit here and vote against closing that crossing and somebody gets killed next week. 
“We just need an exit out of there for those people,” Wheeldon added. 
Wheeldon and Beasley, and Councilors Tom Eastham, Linda Stringer, Jerry Girdler, Mike New, Jerry Burnett, Pat Bourne, Jim Mitchell, John Ricky Minton and Donna Hunley voted to close the crossing. 
Councilor Jim Rutherford voted against the closure.

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