Town Hall Residents: "NO!"
Local residents argued for a "NO" vote on the Broadway closure issue in City Council. The issue re-emerged recently after languishing in legislative limbo for over a year.
In the earlier episode, strong opposition resulted in tabling the closure proposal. The closing is now persued with renewed vigor by BNSF and City Manager Tom Finnie.
Residents want more options examined in finding a long term solution to the Broadway crossing and the 80+ year old underpasses at Grant, Lyon and Washington. They asked city and state leaders to step up to the plate and lead.
At the request of City Councilman Denny Whayne, the City produced a lovely banner depicting an artist's rendition of how Grant Av's underpass might look after the addition of a proposed third track (see story from Dec 5, 2005 "Railroad Plans Unveiled.)
Residents were not placated by the banner when, on closer examination, it shows no real improvement for vehicular traffic or pedestrians. The Southbound lanes would remain the same, a left turn lane to enter Commercial St, and a narrow one-lane for through traffic. Through traffic would still be forced to "thread the needle" between the support columns and the abutment. The problemmatic 11"6" height for northbound drivers remains the same. No additional walkway is provided for the west side of the street. It was also noted by residents that the new facade on the railway overpass is already in the plans for the third track.
BNSF representative Roger Howard spoke and stuck to his guns in citing safety as a primary reason for the Broadway closure. When questioned on regulations governing railways, we learned that the railway inspects bridges more often than the once-a-year required by the Federal Railroad Administration, but that these records are not open to the public. When asked if BNSF would release inspection records for Washington, Lyon and Grant Av, he dodged the subject.