The BNSF railroad crossing at Elm Lane will be closed, and the Fir Lane crossing signalized.

HOLLY M. GILL/MADRAS PIONEER - Susan Radford, who lives on Northeast Collins Drive, gives testimony opposing the closure of the Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railroad crossing at Northeast Elm Lane. The County Commission unanimously approved the closure at a June 6 evening meeting. Rob Townsend, project delivery manager for ODOT, is seated behind Radford, who was the only person to testify at the meeting.
The Jefferson County Board of Commissioners has agreed to a proposal to close the railroad crossing at Northeast Elm Lane, and signalize the Northeast Fir Lane crossing.

The commission reached a unanimous decision on the proposal following a public hearing June 6, at the Jefferson County Courthouse Annex.

Burlington Northern Santa Fe had offered to signalize the Fir Lane crossing, with crossing lights and gates, if the county agreed to close the crossing. Neither crossing is currently signalized.

Under the proposal, BNSF would add lights and gates to Fir Lane at no cost to the county; contribute $287,534 to pave Collins Drive from Elm Lane to Dogwood Lane, and improve a driveway approach for a homeowner on Collins Drive.

BNSF would also extend a parallel siding track — which currently goes from north of Fir Lane almost to Elm Lane — to a termination point near Dogwood Lane.

Northeast Collins Drive resident Susan Radford testified that she opposes closing the railroad crossing and paving Collins, which is currently gravel.

"Paving for me isn't the issue," said Radford, noting that the road is used by young people traveling 50-60 mph. "It's just going to increase the speed for these kids."

Mike McHaney, director of the Jefferson County Public Works, said that he believes residents will be pleased with the design. "They may drive faster, but it will be safer faster," he said.

The road's design will also allow larger vehicles and those pulling trailers to turn on Collins.

Regarding the time frame, Anna Delheimer, project engineer from BNSF, of Seattle, said that the closure of the crossing and paving of Collins need to be simultaneous, and could happen this fall.

"The goal is to close the Elm Lane crossing by the end of the year," said Delheimer.

"Signalization is a little different," she said, estimating that it will take nine months to a year to complete.

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