Judges rules to keep dangerous rail crossings closed

Photo provided by staff
Wednesday, July 3, 2013 - 6:13pm

A judge ruled that a handful of dangerous railroad crossings in Tangipahoa Parish will stay closed, at least for now.

"Everybody was caught off guard," said resident Melvin McEliwee.

The Department of Transportation and Development closed several un-gated and deadly crossings late last month.

"It's all about safety at DOTD, it's our number one task. We think about that everyday. We made field visits to look at the safety of these locations in determining that these locations need to be closed," explained Richard Savoie, Chief Engineer with DOTD.

But residents said they didn't get any say on whether or not those crossings should stay open or closed.

"Come talk to the citizens, they didn't do it. They just marched in like a dictator style military unit on a Saturday morning, closing the crossings and the council didn't know. That was the most alarming thing," added McEliwee.

Those against the crossing took their case to the courts Wednesday. A judge sided with DOTD to keep the crossings closed, a decision upsetting to some residents.

"It's not like the major city and we don't think DOTD placed enough effort into their study. They just used the standard pattern and didn't consult with the residents," said McEliwee.

DOTD engineers said at the end of the day, the benefits of keeping the crossings closed is worth any inconvenience to those living nearby,

"It's a little difficult for people to accept change, but when you're talking about safety and that little bit of travel distance and that little bit of inconvenience. I think it's well worth the investment," said Savoie.

Council members could discuss whether to attempt to appeal the court’s decision at their next meeting.
 

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