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Columbia City Council introduces removal of railroad on Business Loop


The Columbia City Council introduced an agreement between the city and the Missouri Department of Transportation to remove the railroad crossing over Business Loop 70 East at Monday night's meeting.

According to a council memo, the agreement would establish responsibility for MoDOT and the city's part in the removal of the railroad.

The city's railroad staff would be responsible for removing the rails, crossing surface, support structures and hardware. MoDOT would be responsible for repairing and maintaining the roadway.

The city is in charge of maintaining the railroad near the city's power plant, however, it has not been used since the city stopped using coal to fuel the plant. The memo, prepared by the city manager and staff, highlights the crossings' deterioration over time, creating poor road conditions for drivers.

Jerry Lewis, an auto technician at A to Z Auto Repair, said the road can be hazardous for drivers who aren't familiar with the bumpy area around the railroad.

"It's kind of dangerous because the person that's behind you if they don't know the road, they don't know that you're slowing down because there's a big bump in the road," Lewis said. "They might not be paying attention and they can just rear-end you."

Lewis said when the auto repair shop tests a vehicle for noise issues, they use the Business Loop because of the bumpy roads.

"You got a lot of customers that come in about noise complaints while riding down the road. So you try to find the bumpy roads that you can, and that's a spot there that is really bumpy. So whenever you go across, it actually helps you diagnose the car," said Lewis.

Lewis sees the bumpy road as a problem for vehicles.

"You have some real big dips in there and if a person is not used to driving in the area, they're going to go at normal speeds and hit that dip and it's going to destroy their shocks or struts," said Lewis.

The memo also states that MoDOT is planning to resurface Business Loop 70 this year and that the temporary removal of the railroad crossing is reasonable. The agreement also allows for the city to replace the crossing in the future if needed.

"That rail crossing hasn't been used in a long time," Columbia Utilities spokesman Matt Nestor said. "It's kind of, deteriorating a little bit, we've been working with MoDOT to come up with a solution so we're going to, the proposal will remove the rail crossing temporarily."

The removal on the city's part would be expected to have no additional expenses because of the agreement. Nestor said the agreement would be helpful for many people.

"I think, yes, it's a mutually beneficial agreement with the understanding that if the city decides at any time to put the railway back in, we'll be able to," Nestor said.

The proposed agreement states the city is not anticipating to use the railroad in the near future, but will keep the railroad signs, lights and markers in case it is needed down the road. It would cost the city more time and money, in the long run, to continue maintaining the railroad crossing.

Columbia City Council is set to vote on the proposed agreement at the next council meeting on May 20.

In April, ABC 17 News spoke with a driver whose new truck was damaged near the railroad crossing. The driver estimates the damages to his truck exceeded $2,000.

Article Topic Follows: News
city of columbia
columbia city council
railroad crossing

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Gabrielle Teiner


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