Marshfield railroad crossing could close amidst safety concerns - WAOW - Newsline 9, Wausau News, Weather, Sports

Marshfield railroad crossing could close amidst safety concerns

MARSHFIELD (WAOW) -- A busy intersection in Marshfield could be closing temporarily because of safety concerns.

In the last few months, city officials say there have been several crashes involving trains and cars at the corner of Veterans Parkway and Maple Avenue. City leaders say they're looking for solutions.

Marshfield Public Works officials say the unusual number of crashes at the railroad crossing has caught the attention of state railroad agencies.

Now, the city council is considering closing the crossing as part of a three-week experiment to see whether it should be closed off to traffic for good.

Officials say the collisions are unusual and hard to explain.

"We've had engineers look at the crossing from a safety standpoint," said Dan Knoeck, the director of Public Works. "[They] don't see anything different there at this crossing from any other crossings in the area."

Knoeck says these crashes have put them on the radar of state railroad officials.

"Their suggestion was a temporary closing of the crossing to assess what kind of impact would be expected if the crossing were to close permanently," he said.

Knoeck says he's wary of what might happen if the crossing closed for good.

"It will definitely be inconvenient for people, and that in itself can create problems for folks but will it lead to some other congestion in other areas? We think that it could," he said.

After all, he says there are other options.

"We are working on implementing some traffic signal changes, some traffic signal equipment upgrades and that's an initiative the city is working on independently of this closure," Knoeck said.

Some city officials say they'll ultimately like to keep the intersection open.

"We have a lot of people who use that crossing and so we're not quite as quick to jump into those waters," said Steve Barg, Marshfield's city administrator.

Officials see a temporary closure as a compromise with the state railroad agency.

"Before we take more drastic action, a permanent closure for example, we want to have real data and we want to be able to have a conversation with them about the overall picture," Barg said.

The temporary closure isn't a done deal just yet. Marshfield's city council will vote next week on whether to approve it.
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