Milwaukee Street rail crossing to close by end of October

by Emmitt B. Feldner
of The Review staff

PLYMOUTH – The Milwaukee Street railroad crossing will be closed by the end of October, if not sooner.

Director of Public Works Bill Immich reported to the City Council Tuesday on the closing, which was ordered by the state commissioner of railroads.

“In the next few weeks the barricades will go up and the crossing will be closed,” Immich told the council.

Late last month, responding to a request by the city to delay the crossing, the commissioner ordered the city and the Wisconsin and Southern Railroad to work together to close the crossing by Oct. 31.

Originally, the closing had been ordered for Aug. 31, but since that ruling was issued in July, the city had requested a delay, saying the Aug. 31 deadline was not reasonable.

“I’ve been working with (the railroad) on closing and we’ve tried to work out a schedule,” Immich related.

He noted that the WSOR is planning to replace tracks and the crossing signal at the Elizabeth Street rail crossing and was hoping to do that work this fall.

With the ordered closing of the Milwaukee Street crossing, the railroad has agreed to put off the Elizabeth Street work until next spring, Immich said.

That means all permanent work on removing the Milwaukee Street crossing, including tearing out the street, will also be put off until some time next year.

In the meantime, however, Milwaukee Street will be barricaded and closed between Western Avenue and Elizabeth Street.

“I have a feeling that when the railroad does the Elizabeth Street work next spring, we may be opening up the Milwaukee Street crossing for people to use,” Immich speculated. But he added that it would only be temporary until the new Elizabeth Street crossing is completed, then the crossing would be closed permanently.

Kapur and Associates was given a contract to complete engineering, design and construction management services for the planned water main replacement on Western Avenue next year.

Immich explained that approving the $37,300 contract with Kapur now would ensure that the project is ready to go out for bid early next spring.

The project will replace 2,500 feet of water main with a new 12-inch water main from Factory Street to the west city limits, along with resurfacing of the street. The total project is budgeted for $250,000.

Immich said the new water main will complete a larger water main loop on the city’s west side.

The council authorized an additional $8,675 from the contingency fund to finance the installation of new security cameras at the Plymouth Public Library.

Library Director Martha Rosche explained that her original estimate of the capital improvement project was too low due to inadequate responses she received when preparing that request a year ago.

The project was budgeted for $7,000, but the bid came in at $15,675.

It would include several cameras outside the library and seven in various locations inside the library.

Rosche noted that because of the design of the library, some areas – such as the public restrooms and meeting rooms – can not be visually monitored by library staff from the service desks.

“There has been some vandalism that has gone on,” Rosche admitted. “We’ve been very fortunate there hasn’t been a lot, but I don’t think that will be continuing. I think we’ve been playing with fire. We’re hoping the security cameras can be more of a deterrent.”

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