SAN DIEGO – Kansas City Southern Railroad representatives stood before the San Diego Mayor and City Council members Wednesday night to propose a corridor safety and consolidation project.
As part of this proposed project, the railroad would close down 11 of the 16 railroad crossings in town in exchange for $675,000 from KCS and $7,500 from Texas Department of Transportation. The money from TxDOT would need to be used for the roads. However, Jason Field, a highway and rail engineer with Moffatt and Nichol, said that the KCS monies could be used however the council wished.
The proposed railroad closures would be on Trevino Street, Perez Street, Garcia Street, St. James Street, Mier Street, Bexar Street, Travis Street, Seguin Street, Benavides Street, Collins Street and St. Peter Street.
Councilman Margarito Maldonado III told Fields that while he is all about safety, he wonders if the closures would affect emergency response time and how it would affect residents who have an emergency.
“The rail line, is this country, has too many crossing...,” Field said. “There has been four crossings (Trevino, Mier, Victoria and Bexar Streets) where crashes have occurred, where gates are there. Basically, we've done what we can. We've done everything we can to try and tell folks where the train comes through. We put gates there and it's illegal to drive around the gates. We try to (educate) to make sure everyone understands that.”
According to Field, in 2000, there were 3,502 crashes (across) the country where a train "interacted with a pedestrian or vehicle."
"As a result, 425 people died and there were 1,219 people that were injured...," he said."In San Diego, since 1975 there have been 13 crashes, not including the two recent ones."
In April, 26-year-old Eric Galvan died from injuries that result from a train vehicle accident when Galvan attempted to go around the gates. In May, a truck got stuck when the driver was reversing from his property. The driver was not in the vehicle when the accident occurred.
If the council approves the propsed project, there would be only five crossings open. Those crossings are Highway 44, Tovar Street, Dr. E.E. Dunalp, Victoria Street and Ventura Street.
The city council took no action on the proposal. Instead a public hearing was scheduled for Wednesday, June 26 from 6 p.m. till 8 p.m. at the San Diego Civic Center.
After the public hearing, the council will have another meeting and possibly make a decision to whether or not to accept the proposal.