City awaits word on crossing, pushes for support of realignment Public asked to join Panther Panels

by Emmitt B. Feldner of The Review staff

PLYMOUTH – The fate of the North Milwaukee Street railroad crossing could be decided within the next two months.

City officials continue to seek support for an alternative to relocate North Milwaukee Street between Elizabeth and Main streets in order to keep the crossing open.

City Administrator Brian Yerges made that report to the City Council Tuesday and earlier in the evening to the Finance and Personnel Committee.

Mayor Don Pohlman told the committee that the city has not received any report from the office of the commissioner of railroads (OCR) since the March 18 public hearing in Plymouth.

“He did say in an e-mail back to me that he expected a decision to be made in 60 days,” Yerges added.

Yerges also said that he and Public Works Director Bill Immich had met with officials of the state Department of Transportation about the city’s commitment to finance a relocation of the Milwaukee Street/Western Avenue intersection in an effort to alleviate some of the safety concerns at the crossing.

“We did ask them (DOT) for a letter saying that if we did the (relocation) that money for lights and signals (at the crossing) would still be available. We hope to get that letter within 10 days,” Yerges said.

As for the Wisconsin and Southern Railroad (WSOR), which testified in favor of closing the crossing at the OCR hearing, “They seem eager to continue working with the city,” on alternative solutions, Pohlman said.

“I do believe, after hearing the testimony, that at this point the crossing is closed, period,” Pohlman said when questioned by Council President Charles Hansen during the council meeting.

“When you have two experts say close it and we have no experts except our heartfelt feeling that it should stay open, I’d say we didn’t do well in the trial, so we’re looking at alternatives,” Pohlman allowed.

The mayor was referring to testimony from a consultant for the WSOR and an investigator from the OCR calling the crossing antiquated and unsafe.

“I want to be very clear that coming into this Bill (Immich) and I both said the probability that this is going to be closed would be a high probability,” Yerges told the council.

But he added that the city would pursue the relocation alternative even if the railroad commissioner rules that the crossing be closed.

“I know the chances are slim, but it is important to be speaking with one voice very loudly that this is what we want,” Alderman Shawn Marcom said in suggesting that Yerges handle all discussions and negotiations on the issue, which the council affirmed.

The Plymouth School District invites members of the community to join our new Panther Panels to share their thoughts and ideas with school officials.

Panther Panels are groups of people with a shared interest who are willing to offer the district feedback and guidance on a variety of initiatives, from Workplace Readiness to Extra-Curriculular Activities to Gardens & Greenhouses.

Opportunities to give feedback could range from taking an online survey, to attending a meeting to explore a topic further, to joining a task force to delve into a complex issue.

The district already has tapped its Panther Panels for guidance on community values, the school calendar, PHS Homecoming, district communications, volunteer opportunities, and thoughts on what makes our district special.

Visit www.plymouth.k12.wi.us and click the Panther Talks link to join the Panther Panels.


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