November 28, 2014

MDOT offering Standish $100,000 to close Elm Street railroad crossing

Public hearing set for April 15 to collect input

Posted

STANDISH — The Michigan Department of Transportation has offered Standish $100,000 to close West Elm Street at the railroad tracks, where it divides into Front Street and Old M-10.

During the Standish City Council’s meeting on March 25, City Manager Curt Hillman said the proposal was floated to the city from the Michigan Department of Transportation due to work at the Auburn Bean & Grain facility being constructed in Lincoln Township.

Hillman said ABG plans on installing a railroad spur around June 30 to accommodate the 90-car trains that will be coming up from Flint to receive grain shipments. While the train cars should not block main crossings like M-61, they would need to be split at Elm Street to allow traffic through — a potential delay for filling the cars and getting them back on their way.

MDOT has proposed closing Elm Street at the train tracks entirely, and initially offered the city a minimum of $50,000 to do so, before bumping the offer to $100,000. The council seemed wary of MDOT’s proposal, however.

Councilman Doug Ireland said the Standish Area Fire Authority opposed the idea since there are only three streets in the city that cross the railroad tracks. Elm Street has been used as a way across for fires on the other side of town on “more than one occasion,” he said.

He was not the only one disinterested.

“Once it’s closed, it’s always closed,” Mayor Mark Winslow said. “I don’t support closing it either, as it’s not going to stop the project.”

Councilman Jerry Nelson said for the amount of money the state is offering, however, the council should not dismiss the idea out of hand, adding it is something worth looking at.

Hillman said the city would be responsible for either closing the road or limiting access to it when the trains are around, possibly by installing flashing lights and gates. The money from MDOT could only be used to close the road, however.

He said the closure would be inconvenient to traffic leaving from the industrial park at the end of the work day or during lunch as well, as they would need to take a more circuitous route to reach US-23 or I-75.

The council members in attendance unanimously agreed to get public input before making any decisions at the April council meeting, setting a public hearing for 6 p.m. April 15.

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