Goshen News, Goshen, IN

October 9, 2013

Feds to fund most of the improvements to Goshen rail crossings

By JOHN KLINE
THE GOSHEN NEWS

GOSHEN — Several Goshen railroad crossings are about to become safer following a meeting of the Goshen Redevelopment Commission Tuesday afternoon.

During Tuesday’s meeting, commission members voted to fund the city’s portion of a $1.66 million railroad crossing safety improvement project that seeks to improve at least six railroad crossings along the Norfolk Southern Railroad Marion Branch — improvements which could in turn help the city’s chances at securing a quiet zone along what is known as the city’s Ninth Street Corridor.

According to Goshen Engineer Mary Cripe, the city recently applied for Federal Highway Safety Improvement Program funding to make safety improvements at the following six railroad crossings: New York Street, Burdick Street, Jackson Street, Plymouth Avenue, Reynolds Street and Purl Street.

“Today, I learned that we’re going to be receiving that money,” Cripe informed the board Tuesday.

As of the most recent preliminary estimate, total cost for the crossing improvements has been quoted at $1.66 million plus design fees, with the project anticipated to be 90 percent federally funded.

“So Norfolk Southern has given us an agreement in the amount of $100,000 to do the design for the signals and any necessary improvements that they need to do with the gates and all of that at these six locations,” Cripe said. “What the city would be responsible for is 10 percent of that, so that would be $10,000 of the total $100,000.”

In referencing the need for the railroad crossing improvements, Cripe has in the past noted that three of the six targeted crossings have only stop signs as a warning to motorists, while three just have flashing lights, but no bars or gates.

With the help of the HSIP funding, Cripe said her hope is to install gates at all of the targeted crossings, as well as additional safety measures, such as blinking lights and/or more significant barriers when necessary.

“All the work will be done by Norfolk, either their own staff, or they would contract it out to their own contractors that would do the work,” Cripe said of how construction on the crossings would proceed.

As with the design work, Cripe said the cost of the actual improvements to the six crossings is also anticipated to be 90 percent federally funded. As such, the city in the end would be responsible for paying a total of $176,000 — which includes the design fees — while federal dollars would cover the remaining $1.584 million.

It was regarding the city’s $176,000 portion that Cripe went before the Redevelopment Commission Tuesday to seek assistance.

“So basically at this time, since the project needs to move fairly fast, I’m requesting that we’re able to enter into an agreement with Norfolk Southern and requesting that Redevelopment pay up to $176,000, because that’s what we’ve estimated,” Cripe said. “But we’ll definitely be bringing all this back as we get more information.”

The board agreed, and the request was approved unanimously.