Railroad Crossing Closings Debated in Three Towns

Railroad Crossing Closings Debated in Three Towns
By: Ryan Tate
Officials at Burlington Northern-Sante Fe Railroad want to close 420 crossings across the country. A group of those crossings are right here in the Heartland.
B.N.S.F representative Stacy Crakes says the main reason for the closings is safety. She also says, the closings will save the company money on improvements and maintenance. So the company asks some Heartland City Councils to close some crossings in their towns. B.N.S.F will match a Missouri Grant of $7,500 to give leaders incentives. The money will be intended to improve safety in town. But according to city leaders in Portageville, Hayti and Steele, it will take a lot more money to convince them to change.
"It will take more than just the carrot they're dangling in front of us," Hayti Mayor Richard Ashbaugh said. "They offered me $25,000 and said if we didn't close one crossing, we would be forced to pay for safety improvements, which could cost $40,000 or more."
"I don't think any amount of money will change my mind," Portageville Mayor J.D. Patton said. Portageville has seven crossings, each one block from the next. Patton says if some of those crossings are closed it will effect emergency responders, such as ambulance, police and firefighters.
There is no time frame for the closings according to B.N.S.F officials. They met with leaders in Hayti and Portageville Monday.