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Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Council: Geneseo crossing stays open

Tuesday, October 16, 2001

The Storm Lake City Council is looking to keep the Geneseo Street railroad crossing open, while closing crossings at Grand, College and Seneca.

The city's Traffic Safety Team had recommended closing all four crossings after a fatality at the Geneseo Street crossing in May.

The council held a study session yesterday to review a report submitted by the traffic safety team, which spent several months studying the city's railroad crossings.

The traffic team delivered a report to the council, which included traffic counts from railroad crossings, comments from two public meetings held on crossings, and reasons for closing or upgrading certain intersections.

During the two public meetings, citizens delivered a petition against closing the Geneseo Street crossing and two letters - one from the chamber and another from Storm Lake Area Development Corporation - opposed to closing that crossing, which provides access to a business area that includes Silk Screen Ink.

It was at the Geneseo Street railroad crossing that B.J. Strandberg died last May when the truck he was driving was collided with a train.

The traffic safety team "unanimously" supported closing the Geneseo Street crossing along with crossings at Grand, College and Seneca, said Mark Prosser, public safety director and chief of police. The three-member team also recommended upgrades of crossing arms and warning lights at seven other unprotected city intersections.

Prosser said the crossings recommended for closing have permanent, visual obstructions.

The traffic safety team, composed of Prosser, Pat Kelly and Jim Winterton, also recommended:

* Immediately placing stop signs at all unprotected railroad crossings. The city was unclear whether stop signs were permissible at the crossings, but learned that all of Storm Lake's crossings qualify under new Department of Transportation rules, according to Prosser.

* Applying for additional grant funding for upgrades at any of the four crossings which are not closed. Winterton, the city engineer, has already applied for federal grants to help fund upgrades at Northwestern, Barton, Ontario, Oneida, Hudson, Radio and Gilbert.

Since yesterday's meeting was only a study session and not an official council meeting, council members could only advise city staff what direction it wanted to take.

Council members agreed that Geneseo Street should be kept open and the crossings at Grand, College and Seneca should be closed.

The council also urged the city engineer to apply for additional grant funding to upgrade the Geneseo Street crossing and to make it a priority.

City staff will also prepare an ordinance to place stop signs at all railroad crossings that currently do not have crossing arms or lights.

A review of railroad crossings began after the city entered into an agreement with the railroad about two years ago. Under the agreement, the railroad would improve four crossings with lights and arms, and the city could either close three crossings or reimburse the railroad $40,000.

However, after the death of Strandberg City Administrator John Call advised the traffic safety team to review all crossings in Storm Lake and make any recommendations it saw as fit.

Ordinances will come before the council in the coming weeks regarding closing intersections and placing stop signs at others. No changes will take effect until around the first of the year, Call said.



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