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Wednesday, May 4, 2016

City, Union Pacific agree on railroad crossings

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

The Union Pacific Railroad and City of Le Mars recently discovered there isn't any road too long when you meet in the middle.

Recently, discussions turned to putting in a new railroad crossing at 24th Street SW. Both sides wanted more than the other was willing to give at first.

, the railroad and the city found themselves at opposite ends of a what could be a rather contentious situation.

"To open the negotiations, the UP wanted to discuss which crossings the city would be willing to have closed," city administrator/engineer Scott Langel said. "They wanted a two-for-one deal, but the City Council and city staff weren't willing to do that."

The negotiating that followed would have made even Diamond Rio proud. First, the UP started walking Le Mars' way. Then, the city started walking the UP's way. They eventually met in the middle.

"So, the city offered to close the crossing at Third Avenue W," Langel said. "Since we were only giving a one-for-one, we also offered to make safety improvements at 12th Street and 18th Street."

The UP gave city officials a three-year window in which to fund safety improvements at the two intersections in agreement to install a crossing at 24th Street. The city will pursue up to five different funding options; two of the programs have application deadlines of Aug. 15 each year.

The Traffic Engineering Assistance Program provides funding from the Iowa Department of Transportation for up to 100 hours of work by a traffic engineering consultant. The consultant would look at both intersections to determine how they should be modified to promote safety.

The Urban-State Traffic Engineering Program would allow the state and city to share in the costs of improvements made at both intersections. The state's Rail Economic Development program would also apply, but hasn't been funded for a number of years.

"We might also be able to get a project to slip in for STP funding. STP money is road use tax money sent to the federal government that is redistributed to the states for construction projects," Langel said. "The city will use its own road use tax money as a local match. If we're unable to get any of the other funding, it will be our fall-back option, as well."

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