Because railroads operate at their own pace, we need to call on our state legislators and federal officials to put into place accountability measures for rail crossing closures that extend over a period of time. Frankfort and Clinton County also are actively researching and pursuing the possibility of utilizing the State of Indiana’s new Local Trax Program to potentially build an overpass in our community.
We have talked about the need for an overpass for years, but without funding assistance, a piece of infrastructure of this magnitude would almost be impossible for smaller communities to financially afford. Frankfort’s large rail presence is a blessing and a curse. Being a major rail hub means that delays across tracks are unacceptable at times, but at the same time, being a major rail hub opens up opportunities to attract large private investments and jobs.
The State Road 28 West crossing is a good example of the absolute unaccountability that exists at times with railroads. As City officials, we had to partner with INDOT regarding rebuilding the crossing. It was so rough and torn up that it was causing damage to vehicles crossing the tracks. Our administration found a way to partner with INDOT to rebuild this ghastly piece of infrastructure but ultimately, we believe it should have been the responsibility of the railroad to make the needed repairs. We were proactive in finding a solution to this problem and we are being proactive in diligently evaluating the Local Trax Program to potentially build a long-awaited overpass for our community.
In the meantime, we call on legislators to evaluate mechanisms that could be put into place that would be more than “a slap on the wrist” for railroad companies who essentially shut down crossings for extended periods of time.
We were successful in negotiating a shutdown of one crossing on the east side of our soon- to-be-constructed Washington Avenue project. This will be ONE LESS crossing in our community, thanks to the proactiveness of both our administration as well as Clinton County officials.
Mayor Chris McBarnes