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Council OK's smooth crossings in Grandview

GRANDVIEW - Grandview motorists could soon find traveling through the community to be a little smoother going.

Monday night, Grandview City Council members gave City Administrator Jim Sewell their support in moving forward with a plan that will smooth out four railroad crossings that bisect the community.

Sewell said the need to smooth the crossings became evident during the city's recent neighborhood block parties. He noted that bumpy railroad crossings were a concern that was voiced by many during the gatherings.

Following the recent block parties, Sewell said he had Public Works Director Cus Arteaga begin talks with Central Washington Railroad to see if anything could be done about the various crossings. Sewell noted that Central Washington Railroad took over operation of the rail line that runs through Grandview this past summer.

"It's a lot easier dealing with people in Yakima than people in Houston or Minnesota," Sewell said of working with the new rail company. He noted that in the past Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railroad owned the line.

After talking with representatives from Central Washington Railroad, Sewell said the city and the rail company came to an agreement that would lead to the smoothing of the four intersections.

He said the intersections being looked at for improvement include the crossing on West Second Street between Grandridge and Avenue E, the crossing on Euclid just north of Wine Country Road and the crossing on Bonnieview between Euclid and Wine Country roads. Sewell added that the city and the railroad have also talked about taking out the unused railroad crossing on Euclid Road near Harriet Thompson Elementary School.

Sewell said Arteaga was able to obtain a commitment from the railroad that will include a full rehabilitation of the crossings on West Second Street and Bonnieview this fall. Improvements to the Euclid crossing will take place in 2006.

According to Sewell, the railroad company will assume most of the cost of the improvements. He said the only cost the city will incur will come in the form of paying for the new cement pads that will have to be laid at each of the crossings. The total cost of the concrete pads is estimated at $35,000.

Sewell added that the removal of the unused crossing on Euclid will likely cost the city an estimated $2,500. The rest of the costs will be bore by Central Washington Railroad.

Once improvements are made to the four crossings, Sewell said that will leave only one bumpy crossing in the city. He said the only crossing not being scheduled for improvement is the crossing on Elm Street.

The money to fund the concrete pad replacements will come out of the city's street maintenance fund. Sewell said if the full amount were to come out of the fund it would leave $5,000 for street repairs and maintenance for the rest of the year.

Councilwoman Helen Darr expressed some concern over using such a large chunk of the street maintenance fund to cover the cost of the improvements. She added that instead of moving ahead with the improvements immediately she would like to wait until after the council begins work on its budget.

Councilwoman Joan Souders said the idea for the improvements was something that came from the citizens of the community and should therefore be taken care of as soon as possible.

"We've gone to the community and we've said if you're not going to go to city hall then city hall is going to come to you," Souders said.

Childress added that if the railroad tracks are rough for some people in the community, they are rough for every citizen that drives over them.

"If they're willing to do (the work), we should do it," Childress said of the railroad company's willingness to step up the plate.

He added that having the railroad commit to making the improvements is a way to help the city stretch $35,000 to improve four railroad crossings that it wouldn't otherwise be able to rehabilitate.

In the end, council members gave Sewell the nod needed to go forward with the improvements.

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