The railroad crossing on Old Brandenburg Road will close later this month, following a vote Monday, Oct. 3, by the Leitchfield City Council.
Council members unanimously approved the second reading of an ordinance closing the “high” crossing to all vehicular traffic. The ordinance will take effect after it is published in a newspaper, which will likely happen in a week or two.
The vote comes about a month after state and federal officials, along with representatives of the Paducah & Louisville Railway, approached the council to recommend the crossing be closed to vehicular traffic. Off and on since 2009, railroad representatives have asked that the crossing be closed due to its steep grade and poor visibility.
City officials had previously said they didn’t want to close the crossing without giving residents another way in and out – possibly a widened Embry Brothers Drive. The city is seeking financial help from the state and federal governments, as well as the railroad, to help do that work, which Mayor William Thomason said Monday could cost more than $130,000.
According to a letter given to council members Monday, the railroad has pledged $25,000 toward the work on Embry Brothers Drive, and the mayor said another $7,500 has been promised by the state.
Area resident Ann Huff again protested the closing, arguing that the city is moving forward without a plan to address the traffic issues the closing will cause.
She asked why the city was moving so quickly on the issue. “If a death comes of this it would be a problem,” the mayor responded. “If the city got sued, we wouldn’t have the money.”
Council member Margaret Alvey-Fey said she’d been contacted by J.D. Miller, who lives near the base of the railroad crossing and is very concerned his yard and driveway will be damaged by trucks and other vehicles turning around once they realize the crossing is closed.
“That’s been happening for years,” she said, explaining that he’s tried blocking off the area in the past.
The mayor said the city might be able to install guard rails or some other type of barricade if it becomes a problem.
Fey said Miller also questioned the traffic problems the closure will cause, saying he’d counted 200 vehicles using the crossing one recent morning.
“I want us all to do the right thing here,” she said, “but I don’t want to cause problems for J.D. or the other neighbors there.”