State wants to close Ashland rail crossing to cars

The Oregon Department of Transportation is pushing the city of Ashland to close the Glenn Street railroad crossing to vehicles.

Only bicyclists and pedestrians could cross the railroad tracks at that location.

The potential closure is on the City Council’s agenda for tonight’s 7 p.m. meeting in the Ashland Civic Center, 1175 E. Main St.

ODOT’s Railroad Division is trying to get communities to close potentially dangerous railroad crossings in exchange for money to improve other crossings.

The city of Ashland wants to improve a crossing at Hersey and Laurel streets.

ODOT can close crossings without city approval, according to a city staff memo to the council.

Word of the proposed Glenn Street crossing has drawn complaints from neighbors who use the crossing to reach the northbound lanes of North Main Street, also known as Highway 99.

ODOT officials previously asked that the Glenn Street crossing and a leg of Laurel Street be closed. The city’s engineering staff resisted that request due to the negative impact on traffic patterns and because Laurel Street is a preferred emergency response route for Ashland Fire & Rescue.

The closure would eliminate an area where trains and cars could collide, allow the city to move forward with Laurel Street crossing improvements, save money and possibly influence ODOT to let the city extend Fourth Street across the railroad tracks.

— Daily Tidings, Ashland

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