The Addis Town Council took no action on an opportunity to “cooperate” with the Department of Transportation and Development (DOTD) and the railroad on the closing of the Foret Street railroad crossing.
Addis has risen to the top of the list for safety projects and improvements, which are scored using a risk placement index. The index uses factors like train speed, school bus use of crossings and car accidents to determine the eligibility of towns and cities for the installation of lights and gates as well as crossing closures.
Town officials, DOTD and railroad officials have discussed the safety project for more than a decade, railroad officials said.
The proposed project would add lights and gates to Peter Messina Road, Main Street and Myhand Street, and either lights and gates or closure at Foret Street.
The closure of Foret Street is proposed because the installation of crossing arms and signals at the Foret Street crossing pose a problem, and the federal government requested the railroad close 25 percent of public railroad crossings. If Union Pacific installs lights and gates on each side of the railroad at Foret Street, it may require the closure of Ray Rivet Street.
The railroad offered Addis $400,000, or the cost of installing lights and gates, as an incentive for the town’s approval of the Foret Street crossing closure. The extra funds likely would have gone to road improvement projects, Mayor David Toups said.
Councilman Tate Acosta made a motion to approve the closing of the Foret Street crossing in exchange for $400,000, which failed due to the lack of a second.
Despite the Town Council’s inaction, the project can still move forward. The funding has been allocated, and the design is done. The Town Council is considered a “road authority,” but the railroad and DOTD plan, design and fund the project. The railroad is responsible for ensuring public safety of crossings, not the town, Mayor Toups said.
“They’re giving us the opportunity to say yea or nay, but it’s their decision,” Mayor Toups said.
The town’s liability was the primary concern of council members, Mayor Toups, and town attorney Dana Larpenter. DOTD and the railroad are asking the town to either get on board or be held liable down the road, Larpenter told council members.
“There’s no way we will be able to share in the liability of it regardless,” Mayor Toups said. “It’s their decision to make.”