(WASHINGTON) - The Daviess County Commissioners started the process of closing a county road south of Plainville for a new railroad siding.
Nate Smith of the Washington Times-Herald reports that Steve Hefley with the Indiana Southern Railroad was present at Monday's meeting to hammer out an agreement between the railroad and the county to close a crossing at Division Line Road for the new siding.
The siding, Hefley said, will be 8,200 feet and most of the $2.1 million cost will be paid by a federal grant.
"There are no bridges or wetland in this area, so we want to start construction real soon," Hefley said.
Permits and bidding are starting soon for construction.
"What it will do for us is it gives us the ability to meet our trains in the siding and not have to separate the train while we are waiting," Hefley said.
The siding, Hefley said, will also allow Boyd Grain's Plainville elevator to load more trains, thereby expanding its business.
Several ideas were discussed on how the crossing at Division Line Road would operate. The first idea was making it a private crossing where farmers and the railroad would have access. But that idea was dismissed quickly.
"I've got a real concern about locks and gates on Division Line Road," said County Councilman Mike Sprinkle, who also farms in the area, said. "I would prefer not to see that."
Neighbors next to the road asked questions about how many trains would be on the siding, and for how long.
"Are there going to be trains running for hours at a time?" Roger Nowling said.
Hefley said there would be one or two trains a day and they would stay for 10 minutes up to one hour.
"It would devalue my property quite a bit," Nowling said.
Unlike previous reports, CR 900N would not be closed and would be available to get around for farmers needing access. Highway Superintendent Phil Cornelius felt the crossing should be closed.
"I personally think it should be closed and a cul-de-sac be put in," he said.
The commissioners agreed, and the railroad said they would pay the cost to create hammer heads so cars and trucks can turn around. The vote was 3-0 for closing the crossing.
The closing goes to the state for approval.
Wayne Schuetz and employees of Southwest Medical EMS were on hand at Monday's meeting, ready to sign an extension to their ambulance service contract with the county.
The contract, up for renewal after this year, was put on the agenda.
Southwest said they would like to continue the service.
"I am prepared to extend it for five more years," Schuetz said. The commissioners and Southwest will begin negotiations soon on a new contract.
The commissioners awarded a lease for farm land near the Daviess County Airport to Robert Summers for 2013.Summers was the high bid among three bidders at $45,400 for the acreage.
County Attorney Grant Swartzentruber said an engineer's estimate has been given to CSX for rebuilding the overhead railroad bridge on SE 15th Street in Washington.
The quote, according to Swartzentruber, was too high for CSX and they plan to give the county a counter quote for a bridge with a 10-ton limit.
Swartzentruber said the negotiations are ongoing.
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