The right decision on railroad crossings

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Monday night, a representative of the Canadian National Railroad pushed hard to convince the Storm Lake City Council to close some railroad crossings (in exchange for an “incentive” offer that was not revealed). Failing that, the railroad wanted Storm Lake to take on the cost of maintaining the crossing signals to be installed at the intersections.

Wrong place, wrong time.

City officials took a beating from an inflamed public three years ago over a proposal to close crossings, and the impression is clearly a lasting one.

Mayor Jon Kruse politely but firmly told the railroad representative that the Storm Lake public isn’t interested in seeing crossings blocked off, and that while the City understands that the CN is frustrated over signal maintenance reimbursements from the DOT that have not been adjusted in many years, the signals are the railroad’s responsibility and not that of SL taxpayers.

Indeed, Storm Lake has closed enough crossings over the past 20 years. We need those streets - Oneida, Hudson and Glibert - with proper crossing protection for police and firefighters to respond in timely fashion, for people to get to and from work, for children to walk safely to school. The railroad came to the wrong place to suggest otherwise. We are pleased to see that the offer of a money “incentive” in return for a decision to close crossings was ignored, even in a tough budget year. You can’t put a dollar figure on integrity.