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New signs signal dangerous rail crossing

By Staff
HICKORY CROSSING n Hickory Mayor Wayne Griffith adjusts a stop sign at the downtown Smede Street railroad crossing. Two stop signs and three railroad crossing signs were erected there Thursday. Photo by Paula Merritt/The Meridian Star.
By Sheila Blackmon/The Meridian Star
Feb.23. 2001
HICKORY Officials here erected new signs at the downtown Smede Street railroad crossing Thursday a step toward improving safety at a site where three fatalities have occurred since November 1999.
Trinette Wilson and Kirk Buntyn were killed in late 1999 after their cars collided with Kansas City Southern freight trains. Sidney Wagner died earlier this month when a Kansas City Southern freight train struck his farm tractor.
Hickory aldermen voted to erect the signs and put in speed bumps two weeks ago after residents and relatives of the accident victims rallied at town meetings. Hickory Mayor Wayne Griffith erected the signs with the help of another town employee.
They placed new stop signs above the crossbucks one at each approach to the crossing. They also erected three new round railroad crossing signs one at each approach and another at the end of Front Street, which runs parallel to the railroad tracks and comes to a "T" at Smede Street.
Griffith said he is getting price quotes on various types of speed bumps. He said he will place one on each approach. Two reflective strips and the 12 pins required to install them would cost a little more than $400.
He said another type constructed of 4-inch reflective squares and secured to the road with a type of adhesive would cost $305 to $360 for both speed bumps. Both types would rise about 3/4 of an inch above the pavement, but a speed bump constructed of squares would cover more area, Griffith said.
Another option is to build a speed bump of asphalt using town equipment and labor then paint it with reflective paint. Griffith said he is waiting for a price quote on the asphalt and paint. The asphalt speed bump would also be about 3/4 of an inch thick after it was packed.
The signs and speed breakers may help make the crossing safer it has no signal lights or crossbars but town officials will continue to try to get the crossing upgraded.
Griffith said Edwards told him Smede Street is in the top 100 on their priority list and that MDOT upgrades 75-80 crossing each year.
He said MDOT and Kansas City Southern Railroad officials want the crossing closed. They have agreed to upgrade the Highway 503 crossing a few hundred yards to the west of the Smede Street crossing if town officials will close Smede Street.
Griffith and the aldermen say many residents they've talked to want the crossing to remain open.
Sheila Blackmon is a staff writer for The Meridian Star. E-mail her at sblackmon@themeridianstar.com.

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