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Belton ponders closing College Street at railroad crossing near university

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Posted: Friday, January 14, 2011 12:00 pm

By Sonya Campbell

Killeen Daily Herald

BELTON - The city plans to schedule a neighborhood meeting during the next 30 to 45 days to discuss the possibility of closing College Street at the railroad crossing near the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor.

A safety concern from Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway about highway-rail grade crossings in general is at the root of the matter, according to city officials.

It was noted the BNSF and the Texas Department of Transportation's Waco District have been working together to reduce the number of such crossings.

Discussion about the College Street crossing has occurred in past years, city officials said.

Most recently, the city met with railroad and TxDOT representatives in December.

The city then conducted a brief workshop about the crossing at its regular council meeting Tuesday night.

City officials acknowledged closing the crossing would impact residents in the area, particularly those living within close proximity. But the safety aspect prompted further discussion.

Now the city is looking to draw comments from residents during the neighborhood meeting.

If the community rejects the idea of closing the street, the idea probably would be dropped.

But if the local community reacts favorably, the city would enter into a three-way closure agreement with BNSF and TxDOT. In that instance, the city would oversee the design and construction of improvements, including a turnaround.

The railroad would reimburse the city in the amount of $25,000 and TxDOT would pay up to $7,500.

According to a study by the Texas Transportation Institute, the Lone Star State leads the nation in both the number of at-grade crossings and the number of incidents at those crossings.

Contact Sonya Campbell at sonyas@kdhnews.com or (254) 501-7585.

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