LEIGHTON — There could be a lot of changes coming to how the city does business in the wake of a financial crisis, but one thing won’t be changing: Two side-street railroad crossings will remain open.
The City Council last week discussed the two crossings at length.
But a 5-1 vote put an end to the discussion.
Councilman Andre McGhaee said he wanted to reopen discussion of the crossings at College Street and at Sadie Roberson Street with a new administration having taken office Monday. But neither the mayor and other council members, nor the public, were receptive.
Before McGhaee could get the conversation started, new Mayor John Landers quashed it.
“I’m against it. It means a lot to some people in town for getting around,” he said.
There are three streets in Leighton that cross the Norfolk Southern Railroad line. The main crossing is on County Line Road through the center of town. It has lights and crossing arms that drop when a train comes through town, while the other two are less clearly marked.
Landers said the railroad has urged past administrations to close the two crossings, and has even offered money to do so.
“We were held hostage last time. The railroad offered $10,000 or $20,000 to close them, but they are worth much, much more than that to the town,” he said.
McGhaee urged the mayor and council to take no immediate action but to keep the subject open for discussion.
Members of the audience made it clear they did not want the crossings closed. Several people said there should be more than one crossing in the small town, especially when there is a medical emergency and the main crossing is blocked.
Trains must slow their speed in populated areas where there are crossings.
Landers said crossings to the west that have less automobile traffic are far better marked and maintained than the two in Leighton that McGhaee mentioned.
Robert Palmer can be reached at 256-740-5720 or robert.palmer@TimesDaily.com.