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Feedback Sought on West Plains’ Railroad System

Scott Hingst

City officials in West Plains are asking for citizen input to help alleviate traffic congestion at a highly traveled railroad crossing.

An independent study of its railroad network began this month. Specifically, City administrator Tom Stehn says officials want to build an overpass above the railroad crossing at Independence Drive.

“We have traffic backed up all the time for school and other things in the morning because of trains. This would help traffic flow better.”

He says there are no alternatives to cross at that intersection, which has businesses and schools on the east side and residents and emergency services on the west. If a train derails or breaks down, Stehn says efforts to get emergency services from one side to the other are limited. An overpass would also improve the flow of traffic overall.

Stehn says that for over five years, West Plains has tried to apply for grant funds to build the overpass. But despite being highly recommended four out of those five times, he said, the city dit not receive a letter of support from Burlington Railroad.

“Unfortunately, Burlington Railroad will not support just the one crossing. They want a comprehensive look at all our crossings.”

The city has begun facilitating one-on-one listening sessions with businesses and other stakeholders to receive input.

“Our intent here is to develop a comprehensive plan that MODOT and the railroad can support for our at-grade crossings in the future.”

The city has also developed a survey for businesses and residents to fill out and return to the city. Stehn said the survey will help officials better understand how the crossings are prioritized by commuters, and if additional overpasses at other crossings would be more beneficial.

An online version of the survey can be found here. Hard copies of the survey can be found at City Hall, and are to be returned by March 18, according to the city. The results of the survey will be posted sometime in April.