Judge: Railroad crossings stay closed in Tangipahoa Parish

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wwltv.com

Posted on July 3, 2013 at 6:33 PM

Updated Wednesday, Jul 3 at 6:41 PM

Ashley Rodrigue / Eyewitness News
Email: arodrigue@wwltv.com | Twitter: @ashleyrwwl

AMITE, La. -- Two of three railroad crossings in Tangipahoa Parish, caught in a legal battle between the parish and the state, will stay closed.

Wednesday afternoon, a judge denied the council's request to make the Louisiana DOTD re-build and re-open the crossings, closed suddenly last week.

The Capace Road railroad crossing in the Independence area is one of them. It remained blocked and partially demolished after the decision that determined the DOTD did do enough to inform the public about closing the unprotected crossing, along with another in the area, at Reverend J White Road.

"We're glad that the court has upheld that decision to keep these unsafe closures closed so that people who are traveling through this area can use the better, safer crossings with the cross-guard to maintain, just in general, public safety," said DOTD Spokeswoman Jodi Conachen.

The parish council challenged the move, after receiving word June 20 of the imminent closings, then finding out two days later that concrete barriers had been placed across the crossings. A few days after that, DOTD began ripping up the roadways that made up the closures until the parish council filed the injunction request and the work stopped.

Council members were disappointed by Wednesday’s result.

"The loser in this is the residents of Tangipahoa Parish who's gonna have to deal with these closings," Carlo Bruno said.

Those residents, in court Wednesday, say they don't believe the issue is over.

"We'll have to deal with the current situation and hopefully document what goes on and how it happens and watch how the parish changes with this growth," said Melvin McElwee, Sr.

Everyone does agree this experience is one to learn from.

"We do want to improve the process, improve the communication, let people know further in advance, and definitely take this as a learning experience going forward," Conachen said.

"Some other parish is going to be next, and all I can tell you is you need to be aware of your surroundings and look out for documents, because they will paper you to death, that's for sure," said Bruno.

DOTD will now continue deconstructing the railroad crossings, which were only halfway done because of the court proceedings. The parish says it will consider its legal alternatives at a meeting Monday.

The future of the railroad crossing at Babb Street, in the village of Tangipahoa, was not considered Wednesday. It's scheduled for a hearing in two weeks.

 

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