federal, CSX officials
on future track redesign
takes lead in guiding fate
of Main Street in La Grange
Helen E. McKinney
LA GRANGE, Ky. (November 2004) For the past year,
La Grange residents and merchants alike have considered the highs and
lows that will accompany a railroad renovation plan for their city.
As CSX officials near the designated time to renovate the railroad tracks
running through the downtown shopping district, options are still on
A merchants committee had been considering three main
options for their town, but even the ideas set forth in these plans
will continue to evolve. CSX is the company that owns the tracks and
they had granted the committee extra time to draft a plan by deferring
work from the projected stating date of spring 2004 until 2005.
The idea is to increase safety measures on the outdated tracks in order
to retain the quiet zone status the city now holds. A pending FRA regulation
regarding train-whistle blowing threatens the quiet zone status by stipulating
that horns must be sounded at all unguarded crossings. The major crux
of the project will be separating the roadway from the tracks on Main
Street in a two-clock section with curbing and guttering, and replacing
two-way streets with one-way streets and a pedestrian plaza.
Rick Garlock was spearheading this project among local merchants but
has turned the reins over to District 5 Magistrate Duane Murner. I
stepped back in August, said Garlock, because he was entering
the busiest time of the year for his business, The Treasured Child.
Murner said Garlock resigned because he had done all he could for the
project. Even though Its not a continuing role, said
Murner, Garlock will continue to be supportive.
Murner said a negotiating committee was recently formed with Lucy Ricketts
chosen as chairperson. The committee includes Murner and magistrate
Beverly McCombs, Main Street property owners and individuals interested
in La Granges future.
A subcommittee has been formed from the negotiating committee consisting
of Murner, Ricketts and La Grange Mayor Elsie Carter. The three will
meet with CSX officials on Dec. 7, a meeting closed to the public. At
that time, CSX officials will present their initial response to the
issues that were presented to them at a meeting on Oct. 25.
Ricketts said the subcommittee will be the conduit for La Grange
to speak with CSX. We have presented our goals and what we need to make
this a reality. Applying for the quiet zone status provides the
committee more time to meet guidelines. CSX can renovate while we still
plan, said Ricketts.
We want to make this transition as easy as possible, Ricketts said.
Safety issues top the list of concerns, which includes traffic flow,
parking, keeping the downtown area viable and maintaining the historic
district charm and character.
Work has to go forward; a plan needs to be in place, said
Murner. Traffic flow and parking are the two main concerns of merchants
located on the downtown stretch. By far, the greatest expense
will be the replacement of lost parking, said Murner.
The merchant committee formerly led by Garlock, had proposed one-way
traffic sections on Main, Second, Walnut and Cedar streets. This plan
would eliminate parking in a two-block area on the south side of Main,
while adding more parking on Walnut.
An earlier version of this plan called for a barrier to be constructed
at Main and Cedar near the railroad crossing. This would eliminate a
straight connection between Main and Jericho Road, the later road leading
east out of La Grange. This would force subdivision residents, factory
employees and delivery truck drivers to find an alternate route to the
A current traffic study recommends not closing Jericho Road, said Murner.
It provides a viable plan for leaving this roadway open, he said, and
converting it to a one-way street. A main debate has been over which
crossings to close and which to gate.
In June, La Grange City Council unanimously passed a resolution approving
the closure of train crossings within the city. The three targeted crossings
were West Main Street near the angled end of Kentucky Avenue (Sixth
Street), West Main and Third Streets, and East Main (Jericho Road) and
Cedar Avenue. The resolution was passed to maintain a quiet zone in
There will be two definite closings on Third and Sixth Streets, said
Ricketts. A possible third closing may arise. These closings do not
necessarily need to be three crossings in La Grange; they can be anywhere
on the line, said Ricketts. In regard to any new crossings being opened
up, Ricketts said, We cannot open a new one, unless we close three.
A traffic study was begun in July and is expected to be completed in
December. CDP Engineering is conducting the study, which is a joint
venture financed by the county and city. If a plan is agreed upon soon,
state funding can be earmarked for this project. A resolution from the
city is needed, mentioning specific crossings officials are willing
While it may still be some time before the project is completed, Ricketts
said that for now, the subcommittees purpose is to get things
firmed up and in writing. There are many options to consider.
Ricketts said she felt a deep interest in this project after having
lived in La Grange all her life.
ments of many residents, Ricketts said, The trains are a part
of me. Someone needed to step up and be active. I felt this was my place.
All council members feel as I do.
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