Let's Talk Safety...
Closure of Broadway will further restrict vehicular, pedestrian, and bicycle traffic. These travelers will be forced to other railway crossings to the east or west. The closest to the west is Kansas Expressway, already very busy with vehicular traffic and hazardous to pedestrian and cyclists. The first and closest crossing is Grant Av to the east. The underpass is in deplorable shape, and no longer suited to the needs of the public. Built in 1926, it now exhibits signs of stress fatigue in cracked concrete, exposed rebar, and shows multiple scars from low clearance accidents. The crossings at Lyon and Washington are even worse. Lyon has wood trestles with plywood splints on cracked beams. Washington has several water seeps that are eroding the structure from the inside out.
Despite these obvious faults, the railroad has no intention replacing or improving these crossings. They intend to load more traffic on these structures, adding a third set of tracks to replace the tracks to be vacated for the Third Phase of the Jordan Valley project.
City negotiators are handling the Broadway closure as a separate issue from the Jordan Valley project. It’s not. It’s just easier to overcome local resistance to the closing by keeping it separate. Separating local businesses uprooted by the Jordan Valley project and local residents is a classic use of “divide and conquer” strategy.
Many local residents suspect that Broadway is being used as a bargaining chip for the West Yard vacation. The only sop to the residents is a paltry $65,000 spread over seven years for “beautification” of the underpasses. To think that $65,000 will cure the ills of these underpasses is an insult to the intelligence, and viewed as a low-ball bribe by many in the neighborhood groups. If the railroad and Tom Finnie were truly concerned with safety, they would be negotiating improvements to the underpasses before loading more train traffic on them.
Once the West Yard is vacated, these improvements will be even more costly and difficult. Make no mistake, they will need to be done some time in the future. Better to do it now, while the railway has the other yard to make up trains during renovations.