Rocky Railroad Crossings Worry Lansing Residents

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With every jolt and jump of the car, Lansing resident Mike Morofsky's heart jumps a little too.

"We have bolts sticking up, plates eroded away, and it's a safety issue," he said.

He's referring to the uneven asphalt, filled with dips and cracks, surrounding some of Lansing's railroad crossings -- some 100 in all.

A neighbor told Morofsky about the bumpy crossings last year, and as a representative of the Colonial Village Neighborhood Association, he's been trying to get them fixed ever since.

But it's proved more difficult than he originally anticipated.

"I just don't see what the problem is [with fixing it]," he said. "It's almost like they don't care. It's a safety issue and I just don't want to see somebody hurt."

According to state law, the railroad company is responsible for the pavement one foot away from the ties on the tracks and must "construct or improve if necessary and thereafter maintain, renew, and repair the remainder of the street or highway."

Mark Dobronski, president of the Adrian and Blissfield Rail Road, which owns the Jackson & Lansing Railroad Company says his crews are aware of the problems and do maintenance work year-round to try to keep about 50 miles of railroad in good condition.

This year he says he's received more complaints than years past, but he only has so many people to make repairs. Rain and other weather have caused delays and so has the City of Lansing, he said.

The railroad needs to get the streets closed in order to do the maintenance work, which sometimes can prove difficult.

Lansing Public Service Director Chad Gamble says the city has always cooperated with the railroad companies and that the city has to consider other construction projects and special events before closing anything.

Dobronski also says local road authorities and MDOT deserve some of the blame because potholes on the roads can cause trucks to already be bouncing before they hit the tracks, causing more damage.

Though the railroad company must take responsibility, Dobronski said, he doesn't think it's necessarily the fairest system.

He says heavy trucks and snowplows often do the most damage, where as the trains only touch the rails. But, Dobronski said, it would be nearly impossible to track down those responsible.

But in response, Gamble said, the trains are the ones crossing Lansing's roads.

The railroad company hopes to have all repairs done by Oct. 1, when Dobronski says the asphalt plants close.

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