Railroad upgrades scheduled for 2009

Published 10:41 am Wednesday, March 4, 2009

The City of Austin has its hands tied in an effort to install safety measures at four railroad crossings.

According to city engineer Jon Erichson, they entered into a contract with Canadian Pacific (formerly DM&E) in the summer of 2007 to update crossings at Eighth Avenue Northeast, by the Mower County Highway Department; Fifth Place Southeast, by “Buffy the Cow;” 10th Drive Southeast; and Eighth Avenue Southeast, by Wangen Automotive and Trimble’s Cycle Center.

“Due to flooding events in southeastern Minnesota in 2007, they were not able to get to those crossings,” Erichson explained.

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“2008, once again, the workload was such they couldn’t get to them.

“The control is really up to the railroad,” he said.

Canadian Pacific has now promised to install upgrades in early 2009.

“We chose to upgrade those crossings to a crossing surfacing greater than what they would do — that is where our involvement is,” Erichson said.

Austin City Council Member John Martin, Third Ward, addressed the project holdup during the council meeting Monday night.

“If I don’t see any action on the railroad by the end of May, I’m writing them (legislators) all a letter,” Martin said.

“I think we recognize the need; we have been anxious for them to get done,” Erichson said Tuesday.