rail issue goes public
Published: September 11, 2008
Source: The Independent
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Finally, Brighton taxpayers will get their say.
It took more than two hours of political wrangling, motions to reverse
motions and more questions than answers, but Brighton council will let
the taxpayer have their day at a public meeting to help decide the
railway grade separation issue.
The proposal to build an unimpeded crossing at Prince Edward Street has
repeatedly run into sand at local council, where hundreds of pages of
consultants reports and years of study have failed to quell debate over
the need, cost and location of any crossing.
At one point at the Mon-day meeting, the decision to keep the question
alive hung by a single vote. Next Monday night, council could vote to
forge ahead or end the eight-year effort.
“Council had an opportunity to can the (Environmental Study Report) ESR
tonight but council in its wisdom, chose to move forward,” said
Councillor Brian Ostrander, after the vote. “But we are years away from
shovels in the ground.
“A public consultation is our next step. But we absolutely need to deal
with the railway corridor safety issue.
“I want to allow staff to continue down the road to the ESR public
consultation and get on with keeping people safe at railway crossings.”
The problem, said Councillor Craig Kerr, is the issue has never been
given the proper consideration.
“This thing was just going down a pre-determined route,” he said.
The proposal to build a new crossing was put on the agenda in 2000 by
then-Brighton Township Reeve Lou Rinaldi, now MPP for Northumberland-Quinte
West. It all started with train whistles as the demand for an overpass
or underpass went from being about noise to safety, as response times
for emergency services came under scrutiny.
Council heard last year that a proposed underpass tunneling beneath the
busy railway lines of CN, CP and VIA would cost $38 million. And that
was the 2007 price, expected to grow by five or six per cent for each
year of delay.
“The biggest fear is that we’ve gone this far down the road and what is
the public going to say if we stop?” said Mr. Kerr, in an interview
after the Monday meeting. “I think they’ll cheer.
“The people I talk to are saying, ‘My God, stop this monstrosity – we
can’t afford it.’”