The Duncan Banner
The closed railroad crossing at Maple Avenue was a point of contention with two Duncan residents, when they spoke to the Duncan City Council on Tuesday.
Norma and Marian Lennox discussed their concerns during the council’s regular meeting, and expressed their desire to reopen the railroad crossing.
“We need that street back open,” Norma Lennox said.
The railroad crossing closed toward the end of April, as the result of a project between the City of Duncan and Union Pacific. By closing the railroad crossing at Maple, about $970,000 was made available to update the crossings at Plato, Bois d’Arc and Spruce. The funds came through Union Pacific and the Oklahoma Department of Transportation.
One of concerns with the closed crossing was the response time of the Duncan Fire Department. She said a recent fire had her on edge when she thought the fire might be at her church or at least near it.
“I thought my church was on fire,” Lennox said. “The fire was terrible. The Fire Department had to go all the way to Main Street.”
Mayor Gene Brown said the crossing was closed primarily as a safety measure, including visibility and geometric issues at that crossing. Brown said at least one person died at the crossing, which helped push the decision to close the crossing.
The upgrades to the three other crossings just added to the decision. The city didn’t have the funds available to upgrade those three crossings, either.
“It’s not a safe place,” Brown said about the Maple crossing. “I stand by our decision.”
Lennox said crossbars could have been installed at the crossing instead of closing the crossing all together.
“It’s inconvenient,” Lennox said.
Marion Lennox had similar thoughts and gave her opinion on how one person’s bad decision shouldn’t negatively impact everyone who would use that crossing.
“I don’t know why you have to close it because one person got killed,” he said.
He said there are ways people can stay safe at railroad crossings, whether it’s turning their music down, staying off their cell phones or just paying attention to what they’re doing.
Brown said safety was the top concern of the Duncan City Council. And he was proud of the decision to close the crossing because it means fewer people are at risk of being hurt or worse when it comes to crossing the train tracks.
“I’d rather someone tell me ‘it’s inconvenient’ than to tell someone’s mom their son was killed,” Brown said.
The main Duncan Fire Department station is located on Willow and the fire trucks exit from the station onto Willow Ave. which is a block south of Main Street.