Madison leaders oppose decision to close railroad crossings

Railroad Commissioner orders closure of 2 crossings

Published On: Sep 19 2012 05:34:30 PM CDT   Updated On: Sep 19 2012 08:25:31 PM CDT

The city of Madison said it's ready to take legal action against the state railroad commissioner after he ordered the closure of two railroad crossings on the Isthmus.

Railroad Commissioner Jeff Plale's decision will cut off traffic and pedestrian access where trains cross at Brearly Street and Livingston Street.

East side residents will have a fewer ways to get across the Wisconsin and Southern tracks that divide the Isthmus east of the Capitol.

A week ago, Plale said the crossings must be shut down by June 2014.

With the closure, residents would have fewer ways to get across the Wisconsin and Southern tracks that divide the Isthmus east of the Capitol.

Plale said safety issues at the crossings and the amount of crossings in the area were factors in the decision. He said that with another crossing being added soon, there would be nine crossings in about a mile stretch of track.

The decision to close the two crossings goes against the recommendation of a hearing examiner, who recommended closing just one of three crossings that were being looked at.

The city argued all these crossings are vital for the continued economic development of the east side of Madison and said there have been no safety issues at any of them.

Madison Mayor Paul Soglin on Wednesday called the commissioner's ruling absurd.

"It's real hard to come to a conclusion. It just doesn't make sense. It would be one thing if the hearing examiner had findings that supported what the commissioner did," Soglin said.

Plale said he simply didn't agree with the hearing examiner or the city's arguments to keep the crossings open. Plale said there are just too many crossings and the remaining crossings provide adequate access for residents and businesses in the area.

City leaders have asked the commissioner for a new hearing to reconsider this ruling. If that hearing doesn't happen, the city said it will take legal action to keep the crossings open.