At the City Council meeting when the ordinance was tabled for the closing of two crossings, which for anybody that doesn’t know, the crossings have been closed for a number of years. In fact, Muncie is not the only city in the United States that is considering closing crossings. A quick search in Google will bring a variety of cities and towns that are working with railroad companies to meet federal mandates.
MONROE CITY, Mo. — Four months ago, Monroe City found itself at a crossroads over the railroad crossings that dot the town’s landscape.
Now, they’re moving forward on closing at least one of those crossings in an effort to comply with Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railroad’s concerns over local safety and a federal mandate to close a quarter of its crossings…In exchange, the railroad will upgrade safety mechanisms at railroad crossings at the Main, Oak, Vine, Washington, Davis and Border streets and County Line Road.
From the same article:
Last fall, BNSF also proposed a cash incentive in exchange for railroad safety improvements in the city. Minor said that has not come back up in conversation, but the city intends to address that possibility again before finalizing any work in town . Source: Monroe City moving forward on closing at least one railroad crossing – Herald-Whig 5-2-11
Londan, OH is another example of permanent railroad closures.
The City of London will permanently close the railroad grade crossing at West First Street.
The decision came at London Council’s Feb. 17 meeting. Six members voted “yes;” Dick Minner abstained.
The Ohio Rail Development Commission (ORDC) and Norfolk Southern Railway Co. proposed the closing to meet a federal mandate that rail companies close 25 percent of their grade crossings to reduce the chances of accidents involving vehicle drivers or pedestrians.
In exchange for closing the crossing, ORDC is providing the city with the following:
• $30,000 in Norfolk Southern funds, which the city can use for any purpose;
• installation of premium concrete or rubber surfaces at two other Norfolk Southern crossings in London; and
• up to $5,000 from Norfolk Southern to reimburse the city’s cost for installing barricades and removing road surface at the closed crossing
Source: London will close West First Street railroad crossing – Messenger 2-22-11
What do these and other communities across the nation have in common with Muncie, Indiana? A federal mandate to close crossings. This is where the similarities appear to end. It took just four months for Monroe City, MO city council to come to a consensus. Accepting the offer to have other crossings upgraded for safety purposes, in exchange for the closing, the elected officials looked at what was best for their community and acted upon it.
London, OH seized the opportunity to receive funds and to upgrade some other crossings in their city. With a vote of six yes and one abstain, the work will be completed by 2012.
You may wonder about the four million dollars in the title of this blog, and there is no mistake about the figure. At the city council meeting discussing quiet zone and railroad crossings, Mayor Sharon McShurley mentioned the possibility the city could receive a sum of money from the railroad. Up to $4,000,000.00 to be exact.
Members of city council didn’t even bat an eye, and seemed unmoved by the generous offer extended to our city. Never mind the city had to cut nearly that amount and survived, the additional funds would be more than just a welcome sight. It would be good for our community as a whole.
Regardless if the current city council had trepidation about the funds, to absolutely not even bother to entertain the possibility is inconceivable.
We had Councilperson Mary Jo Barton complain (yet again) about her lack of information. I won’t go into detail about her poor community involvement and 16 years governing city affairs as this is common knowledge among the people of Delaware County.
Instead, I would ask what elected official which has sworn to work for the betterment of the city (or at least this was their campaign promise in 2007 & 2011) would not be interested in something that would benefit the entire city? And yet, Alison Quirk, Mary Jo Barton, Jerry Dishman and Julius Anderson tabled something they didn’t have the guts to vote yea or nay on.
If they voted yea, then it would go against what their party headquarters wants and if they vote nay $4,000,000 could be lost.
The local newspaper penned an opinion piece and I concur with this statement:
The bottom line is that it’s a starting point, and any issues could be resolved. A Muncie City Council that is not even open to discussion is doing nothing but dragging the community down.
Taking advantage of an opportunity to improve the safety and quality of life for Muncie residents really is a no-brainer. SP 8-10-11
There is no mistaking my feelings on how the city council has consistently voted poorly and the city has suffered from their votes. It’s obvious and at every opportunity I will continue to present what I know to any interested person.
I have just had enough. This city must move ahead and pull out from the outdated and self-serving elected officials.
It’s not 1970 anymore.