The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

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January 21, 2013

Windber railroad crossings to be removed or repaired

WINDBER — A drive down two busy Windber streets will soon be a smoother one.

An agreement between Windber, the Allegheny Southern Railroad and PennDOT is clearing the way for two railroad crossings to be removed in town, while a third will be improved, borough officials said.

It will mean an end to a bumpy and unpopular 21st Street crossing near the McDonald’s restaurant as well as another on Graham Avenue near D’Arc’s Pizza, Borough Manager Fred Oliveros said.

“The biggest thing for us is eliminating that 21st Street crossing,” he said.

That crossing has been a trouble spot for years, Oliveros said.

“We didn’t want to see the road rebuilt but then have that crossing deteriorating there,” he said.

The road is a well traveled one. It is an exit for Mine 78 coal trucks, which Allegheny Southern officials said put constant wear on the crossing’s intersection.

“We paved that area twice over the past three years,” Allegheny Southern President Charles Erickson said. “This eliminates the need for ongoing maintenance there – and to have to keep fixing that area – until the coal trucks are done in that area.”

“But this was really just a courtesy to the residents of Windber and Rosebud,” he added.

PennDOT will handle the work. Its contractors will pull the crossings later this year when work begins on the

21st Street/Route 160 project.

Removing the crossings carries an estimated $17,500 price tag, the agreement shows. Penn-DOT is kicking in $10,000, the county 10 percent and the borough up to $7,500.

Allegheny Southern retains the rights to both crossings, and will be able to reinstall them if rail officials feel there’s a need, Erickson said.

He said the 21st Street crossing was used by his company from 1992 to 2004 and was dormant for 25 years before that span.  

“It could be six months or 10 years (before the company has a need for it again),” he said.

The third crossing, also on Graham Avenue, will be upgraded, with new sub-base and blacktop replacing areas where timber ties existed, Oliveros said.

The improvements will allow Allegheny Southern to continue using the track and make it easier for motorists to cross it, too, he said.

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