On Monday, Neosho Interim City Manager Harlan Moore announced that the railroad crossing safety improvements and closures will be proceeding within the coming weeks. Neosho Mayor Richard Davidson comments on the project.


On Monday, Neosho Interim City Manager Harlan Moore announced that the railroad crossing safety improvements and closures will be proceeding within the coming weeks.

This week, Kansas City Southern Railroad crews are expected to begin site work adjacent to crossings. Work affecting traffic flow will proceed by July 19. All work is projected to be complete in late September. The dates and duration of work will be subject to change depending on weather and field conditions.

The schedule of work is as follows:
• July 19 – Aug. 2 - East McKinney/Highway 86: temporary closure for signal and gate installation, road surface work, median curbs, drainage improvements and a new pedestrian crossing;
• Aug. 2 – Aug. 16 - East Spring Street: temporary closure for signal and gate installation, road surface work, median curbs, drainage improvements and a new pedestrian crossing;
• Aug. 18 - Park Street: permanent closure;
• Aug. 23 - East Coler and Morrow streets: permanent closure;
• Aug. 23 – Sept. 3 - Smith Avenue and North College/Business 60: temporary traffic delays or detours are expected during installation of new signals and gates and median curbs. Smith Avenue at North College will be permanently closed;
• Sept. 6 – Sept. 20 - Washington Street (at the RV Park): daytime closure for signal and gate installation, road surface work, median curbs and drainage improvements; and
• Sept. 20 - Daugherty Road: permanent closure.

With the announcement, the Neosho Daily News asked Mayor Richard Davidson a series of questions.

Can you give some history on the repairs/closures?
“There were two sets of closings. First phase dates back several years and those would include closings of Coler, Morrow, North Wood (the one that runs on the east side of the Newton County Jail), but of those crossing closings some have already happened, but those closings have been in the works for a number of years. And the most recent closing discussions date back about 18 to 20 months and those are the closings for Park and Daugherty (Road). Those were tied to the construction of South Street overpass. So phase one was tied to construction of La-Z-Boy Drive and phase two was tied to construction of South Street (overpass).”

How will the repair and closures affect traffic flow, in your opinion?
“The understanding that I had when I sat in meetings with MoDOT a few weeks back was that MoDOT and railroads are coordinating efforts and giving the city enough notice where the impact of traffic flow will be minimized. But while work is being done, for example on the McKinney Street crossing, changing the grade and upgrading the signals, there will be deviation of traffic over to Park Street. As other work continues, there will be some temporary displacement of normal traffic flow until that work is done. The railroad and MoDOT both were understanding of that and they have worked well with the city to minimize the impact while those upgrades were in process.”
 
What are some advantages that the city actually sees for this?
“I would say that there are a few advantages. One, the overall benefit – as a whole – is fewer crossings that you have, the less likelihood that you would have of a train-car accident. The fewer tracks that people cross, it reduces accident rates and, in essence, improves safety. The crossings that are going to remain open will have better signaling, they will have some barriers down the center lines to prevent cars from trying to pass or go around the arms when the train comes. And the improvements the city is doing in conjunction with MoDOT will make that whole stretch of the railroads on the east side a quiet zone once all of the upgrades and improvements are completed. So those are some of the benefits.”

What are some disadvantages that the city actually sees for this?
“Some of the negatives to it are that we are going to impact people by closing Park Street, closing Daugherty (Road). While that is not a secret today, those closures, when they first came up, caused a lot of divide in people and the city. Despite the best efforts of the few people that were recently elected, it was obvious early on that the agreements put in place by prior council were contractually binding and prevented us having a chance to reconsider or work out some alternatives. So it is going to impact particularly those who live on Park and those who live on Daugherty, but we will get through this. Those closings are going to happen and we will move down the road and deal with them the best that we can.”