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Public comments favor solving troublesome Stevens Point railroad crossing


STEVENS POINT, Wis. (WSAU) -- The public had their chance to view plans and ask questions about a proposed railroad crossing overpass.

The options include two overpass and two underpass designs to get Hoover Avenue and Country Club Drive past the extremely busy Canadian National Railroad tracks, which are at the east end of the Stevens Point rail yard.

Kevin Hagen is the Project Manager from AECOM, who says the feedback has been positive.  “In general, very positive feedback. The community really feels that this is a necessary project that we’re talking about here. A few concerns regarding what’s going to happen at the ends and access, but in general, everyone’s very much for the project.”

Hagen says they’ve taken some notes after hearing comments from the public. He’s hoping the city council can give them some direction next.  “Next, we will get a preferred alternative from the city, hopefully within a month or so, and then we will complete our environmental report, submit that for approval, and then once that’s approved, we’ll move into some final design.”

Mayor Andrew Halverson was also at the informational meeting, and received many favorable comments about this project.  “Very positive. You know, folks are extremely excited about this opportunity. We’ve wrestled with this as a community for over 30 years. It’s something that folks are unbelievably inconvenienced by.”

Halverson says the railroad and the commerce that brings is important, but so is solving this crossing problem because it slows response times from Fire Station number two and it holds people up for long periods of time, affecting hundreds of workers in that area.  “I have literally gotten calls from people on cell phones, screaming from their car in traffic at this crossing. They’ve been there for 20, 25, 30 minutes. That is a real issue.”

The lowest-cost option to build the crossing is 12.3 million dollars. Halverson says some of the funding that would be used was earmarked by former Congressman David Obey before he left office.

The grade separation project to get vehicle traffic past the trains has been considered a wish that was too expensive until just recently. Now, it could actually begin with construction in 2017.

(Listen to our interviews with Kevin Hagen from AECOM and Mayor Andrew Halverson on our website.)