Categorized | IN OUR COMMUNITY

RR crossing at 35th finally fixed

Posted on 17 September 2019 by Tesha Christensen

Here is a before photo showing the potholes and damage to the surface of 33rd. (Photo submitted)

The notoriously bad railroad track crossings off of 35th St.and Hiawatha have finally been fixed. “It took a lot of effort, but I was able to get this moved up by several years,” remarked Ward 12 Council Member Andrew Johnson.

What was the initial schedule for this project?
Johnson: When I first came into office, this wasn’t in the five-year Capital Improvements Program (CIP) to fund the repair work. I worked with Public Works at that time to get it added to the CIP, but it was scheduled for 2021. Working with then Mayor Hodges we were able to get it moved up in the CIP to 2019 (as part of the budget process for FY2016). I think it helped driving her Deputy Chief of Staff over the tracks several times!

A new surface means a smoother ride for those traveling over the tracks. (Photo by Tesha M. Christensen)

What were the challenges?
Johnson: As Public Works began working on this, the reality of getting agreement from multiple companies (including the railroads) made it challenging. Another complication was the news that ADM is closing their mill at the corner of 35th (the Nokomis mill) in the near future, which meant that they didn’t want to pay for a permanent fix on a track they would soon no longer need. General Mills also recently sold some silos at the corner of 38th Street and indicated an openness to having it removed. So we were at somewhat of a crossroads on whether to proceed this year or wait for the ADM and General Mills tracks to eventually be abandoned so that they could be removed to make for an even better experience.
This road sees more than 6,500 vehicles a day though, and it has been a major road headache in our community for years, so it was important to proceed with the permanent concrete and steel solution for the track we knew would remain, fix the asphalt grading and improve the crossing for the rest of the tracks, and get the administrative ball rolling on removing these additional tracks in the coming year or two.
Public Works also identified other opportunities for this stretch of road to make it more friendly for users, which they are interested in incorporating into the next phase of work. Kudos to Public Works for how quickly they got this done once construction started!
It’s also worth noting that 33rd Street is getting permanent fixes right now too.

What do residents think about the work?
Johnson: I have heard from many residents since this work wrapped up and they are delighted that the tracks are finally fixed! It’s icing on the cake that we’ll see even more improvements in the next few years here. Glad to see this done!
~ Compiled by Tesha M. Christensen.