Shawano rail crossing getting upgrade

Gates, new signal lights planned in 2019

Kevin Murphy Leader Correspondent

Leader Photo by Lee Pulaski Traffic crawls along Green Bay Street at the railroad tracks Friday. Plans for road reconstruction in 2019 include upgrading the intersection with gates and new signal lights.

Reconstructing state Highway 22 through the city of Shawano in 2019 will require the installation of gates and new signal lights at the railroad crossing on Green Bay Street, the Office of the Commissioner of Railroads ordered this week.

On a request from the Department of Transportation, the OCR investigated the stopping distances required for motorists approaching the crossing between Hamlin and Ellis streets and found the current warning signals to be inadequate.

Six trains use the crossing per day between 6 a.m. and 6 p.m., according to the OCR order, but only six per week, according to the DOT’s request to investigate the adequacy of the crossing’s warning devices. The maximum train speed is 40 mph but rail traffic typically averages only 5 to 30 mph.

The speed limit on Green Bay Street is 25 mph.

Assuming a maximum train speed of 40 mph, a driver traveling at 25 mph needs to see a train when the train is 437 feet from the crossing when the driver is 195 feet from the crossing. The necessary clear sight distance at the crossing is 1,041 feet but the available clear sight distance is 1,020 feet from the northwest; 786 feet from the northeast; 1,443 feet from the southwest; and, 600 feet from the southeast.

“The clear sight distance is inadequate from the northeast, northwest and southeast,” according to the order issued by Commissioner of Railroads Yash P. Wadhwa.

The crossing currently has flashing signals mounted on structures that overhang the street. The Wadhwa approved the DOT’s request for crossing gates with flashing lights mounted on them and an electronic bell.

Wadhwa gave the Canadian National Railway until Oct. 1, 2019, to complete the warning upgrades to crossing. The railroad is to coordinate installation work with the city of Shawano.

The cost to upgrade the crossing is to be included in the state Highway 22 reconditioning project through the city of Shawano that the DOT has scheduled for 2019.

The project budgeted at approximately $4 million will repave portions of state Highway 22, replace guardrails and culvert at Murray Creek, make signal timing changes to improvement traffic movement, install new signs and pavement striping, upgrade curb ramps and continue sidewalks along East Green Bay Street.

Right of way needed for the project is being acquired on a temporary and permanent basis. The city will acquire the needed right of way located between Main Street and County Road HHH. The DOT will acquire right of way from the Wolf River to Zingler Avenue and from County Road HHH to County Road BE.

The project is expected to be completed in fall 2019.