Local News

Underpass May Bridge Divide Between Clayton Neighborhoods

Posted January 22, 2007 6:05 p.m. EST
Updated January 22, 2007 7:57 p.m. EST

— A state program to increase safety on the railroad tracks running through Clayton made some residents feel they were shut out. Now, Department of Transportation officials have a plan to move people across the rails in what they say is a safe and unique way.

The DOT began closing some crossings as far back as 1998, when a woman was killed on the tracks. Now, a first-of-its-kind design is on the drawing board to help move foot and bicycle traffic.

“It's a very open airy design that we're using,” said Clayton Town Manager Steve Biggs. “We're not going to be creating a tunnel here. We're actually creating something that is on a smaller scale, somewhat similar to a vehicle underpass.”

Some residents claimed closing crossings cut off poor neighborhoods from downtown Clayton. Now, some who walk across the tracks feel differently.

“In the sleet and snow, stepping across the tracks is real bad,” said resident Mike Pearson. “If people could just go walking right on through instead of walking up these steps, that would be a nice project. It all depends on how long it’s going to take to get it done, though.”

Design and construction of the overpass would be a two to three-year process. The DOT has set aside nearly $2 million to fund the project, while Clayton will contribute $10,000.

Resident Ervette Sinclair, who is confined to a wheelchair, said that the DOT should keep everyone in mind when planning.

“Get feedback to say, this is what they would need in order for a wheelchair not to get stuck in this new railroad crossing, holes, or whatever across that railroad track, or when you do the sidewalk, this is the way it should be, you know.”

Residents who want to take a look at the plans or comment on them can attend a public meeting on Thursday, Feb. 1, from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. at the Mt. Vernon Christian Church in Clayton.