The city approves money for CSX to repair the crossings,
By LEON M. TUCKER
© St. Petersburg Times, published May 23, 2001
SAFETY HARBOR -- A pair of railroad crossings that were passed over for needed repairs could be fixed by summer's end.
City commissioners have approved a request from the city's engineer for $95,124 to reimburse CSX Corp. for repair work to the crossings at the entrance to the Brooklyn subdivision and the Packard Court industrial park.
It will cost an estimated $47,500 per crossing to lay new asphalt and railroad ties and to manage traffic.
"They said it will be a month or two before they can do the work," said Lennie Naeyaert, city engineer. "If everything goes well we should be working on this by summer."
City officials say problems arose when CSX gave the city only one day's notice before the company was to begin repairs to three city crossings.
Fearing such short notice would cause serious traffic problems, the city asked the railroad company to repair only one of the crossings, at Marshall Street. City officials said that area was best able to handle traffic diversions the work would make necessary.
City representatives visited business owners inside the Packard Court business complex and asked whether business people there objected to crossing repairs. They did, so the city put off the project.
The city did not visit the Brooklyn area, a predominantly black neighborhood next to the business complex that officials had decided would not get the repairs.
The reason, Naeyaert said, was because the city wanted to meet with residents but found it difficult to notify the entire neighborhood on such short notice.
After a St. Petersburg Times story appeared on the situation, Mayor Pam Corbino arranged to visit Brooklyn residents.
At the meeting, Corbino heard residents complain that their neighborhood has received little attention in the form of improvements by the city.
Weeks later a new $1,800 sign signifying the entrance to the Brooklyn subdivision was installed on the corner of Ninth and Railroad avenues. City workers used street sweepers to clean the roads, asked Florida Power to evaluate the lighting for repairs and trimmed grass that has grown onto the street.
Corbino could not be reached for comment.
Naeyaert said the city has time to safely re-route traffic during the upcoming railroad crossing repairs.
"We still have to examine the ultimate route to make it safe for public transport," he said. "There are alternate routes we can look at for those two areas to make it safe for two-way traffic, but right now they are not safe for two-way traffic."