The Hancock-Henderson Quill, Inc.

BNSF fails to close crossing at this time

By Sally Day for the Quill

Stronghurst residents and individuals affected by the closing of a railroad crossing met at 4:30 p.m. at the First Christian Church in town.

Mayor Gary Root opened the meeting, stating there would be no outbursts or those people would be escorted out.

Approximately 75 were on hand to listen to David Johnson of the Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway discuss the possible closing of the crossing at Broadway Street.

Johnson, in charge of Public Projects for the railway offered an incentive payment of $100,000 to the village to close the crossing. The monies would come from BNSF, the Illinois Commerce Committee and IDOT. His first question to the crowd was,  Is the Village willing to entertain the thought?

Michael Bohnenkamp was the first to speak up.  No, he said. It is too valuable of a street.

Johnson noted that he was also from a small community and that  farming is the lifeblood of Stronghurst.

Johnson talked about the possibility of opening up Elizabeth Street, improving that location for crossing. Ron Gitting said that Elizabeth Street is too narrow for farm equipment. Peggy Chockley mentioned that if BNSF was to open Elizabeth, it would take most of her yard, which is small as is, and intended for her grandchildren to play in.

It was also noted that semi truck traffic under the viaduct and back into town was nearly impossible.

Mayor Root asked Johnson what if the town said no? Johnson said,  I don't have enough power to close that street. Johnson went on to say the railway is looking at this from a maintenance standpoint.( Randy Jarvis asked how much the railway would save by closing the crossing. He suggested that the incentive the village was offered was an insult.

Johnson said he was just given the task of finding out if the village was willing to close the crossing. He said the final authority was the village.

When Johnson asked for a show of hands of those who were did not want the crossing closed, nearly every hand reached upward.

Johnson thanked those in attendance and closed the meeting at 4:55.