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Crossing guard malfunctions even as repairs languish

Staff writer

Four times in the last week, railroad crossing arms on W. Main St. have malfunctioned, with arms down, lights flashing, and no train approaching.

The city has been trying to get Union Pacific to make necessary repairs to the rough crossing for months. So has Kansas Department of Transportation.

“I’ve worked with UP railroad,” city administrator Roger Holter said. “They have rebuilt the panels to be installed.”

That was before Christmas. The panels still haven’t been installed.

They are sitting in the railroad’s yard north of Santa Fe St. where supplies are stored, Holter said.

“Eric Puttroff (UP track manager) told me last December they would do the crossing after they got through the Christmas shipping season,” Holter said.

Holter contacted KDOT about the issue. On May 5, KDOT sent UP a railroad crossing repair order.

Since then, the crossing arms have been malfunctioning.

Holter said he got a letter dated May 3 from GSS, Inc., a company hired by UP to construct 42-foot mono communications pole for positive train control.

Jarad Prescott, senior project manager for GSS, said the pole the company was hired to install has nothing to do with the malfunction of the crossing arms or the rough crossing.

“It’s for a federally mandated safety system,” Prescott said. “It basically allows the railroad office to see the train. The purpose is to prevent train accidents.”

Clinton Jeffrey, assistant police chief, said when the crossing arms malfunction, officers redirect traffic to a crossing north on Santa Fe St.

It usually takes the railroad about an hour to fix malfunctioning arms, Jeffrey said.

“It’s still illegal to go through them even though they’re stuck,” Jeffrey said. “I understand people say they do it slow, but it’s still illegal to go through them.”

Calli Hite, director of corporate relations for UP, said Tuesday the rough crossing is scheduled for repair in June or July. She did not know when the crossing arms on Main St. will be fixed.

Last modified June 8, 2016

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