The Jefferson city council listened to input from residents about closing the railroad crossing at Wilson at its meeting Tuesday and decided by consensus to look at another option.
About 30 persons attended the meeting, and several of them addressed the council.
Justin Jackson of Snyder and Associates shared traffic counts at that crossing. In 2013 there were an average of 560 cars per day; the count was 500 in 2016. Those counts included bicyclists but not pedestrians. He said that considering the number of vehicles and the distance travelers would need to go to get to another crossing were within federal guidelines to close the crossing.
Shirletta Orchard was adamantly opposed to closing the Wilson crossing. “What you’re trying to do is close out the north end of town,” she said. “You have not done anything on the north end of town… Then you want to cross of the railroad track so we can’t get to the north end… Wilson is our main street to the north end of town. What will happen to the businesses on the north end if you close that crossing? I think people should get to vote whether you close it or not.”
She said the noise of the trains needs to be reduced, but she doesn’t want the crossing closed.
Cindy Tapper said some elderly drivers are not allowed by the Department of Transportation to drive on the overpass, and that they depend on the Wilson crossing.
Jack Williams, Jefferson fire chief and Greene County sheriff, said it would be a risk to public safety to close another crossing. He said closing the crossing could add two minutes of response time for the fire department, which could be a matter of life or death. “Sometimes Highway 4 is more dangerous to take quickly than some of the side streets,” he added.
Jim Spearman mentioned the quiet zone now in place in Ogden. There, center medians have been placed on either side of the crossing so vehicles can’t drive around crossing gate arms. There are signs posted asking train engineers not to use their horns.
According to regulations, there is no such thing as a true quiet zone. Engineers can still use their horns if they think it’s necessary. Council member Larry Teeples said there are still horns sounded in Ogden, but not as many.
Discussion lasted about 20 minutes. The council then decided to look at the center medians as the next option. Council member Gary Von Ahsen said establishing a quiet zone was named by the council as a priority and he would personally like to see it happen.
The council also didn’t act on a recommendation from the street/water/sewer/sanitation committee after hearing input from residents.
The committee made a recommendation to the council to discontinue accepting waste concrete at the waste site at Daubendiek Park. A problem has come from contractors taking entire driveways to the site in pieces too heavy for the city crew to handle.
According to public works director Dave Morlan, the city crew spends two weeks twice a year breaking up large pieces of concrete into manageable weights and hauling them to the site west of Jefferson near County Road P-14.
Don Orris told the council he thinks closing the site is “extreme” and would work against residents doing small repair jobs. “I don’t think the rest of us who are using it should be punished for the misuse of some,” he said. He added that residents hauling pieces of concrete west of town could be a safety hazard.
Von Ahsen there would be no way to enforce allowing only small amounts to be dumped at the Daubendiek site.
“The problem is that we get people dumping pieces that are 2,500 or 2,000 pounds. It’s become such a handling disaster for us. If we could get everybody to leave it in workable chunks, we wouldn’t have this problem,” Sloan said.
Teeples suggested that for small amounts of concrete, residents could call city hall for pick up by the city crew. Berry suggested one way to fund disposing of the concrete would be to add a fee to garbage bills, like was done with the yard waste.
Berry asked the committee to look at the problem and possible solutions again.
During council member reports, Sloan reported that the animal shelter committee has toured the shelter and talked with PAWS volunteers. He described the shelter as “pretty tough,” and said, “I don’t know if that building can be resurrected.”
He also noted that a dog at the shelter had been injured when he got his head stuck in a damaged fence.