PERU – Every railroad crossing in Peru will close for repairs for three days starting Monday, leaving only one way through town and raising concerns about bottle-necked traffic.
Norfolk Southern Railroad earlier this week closed the crossing over Kelly Avenue, and Duke, Grant and Fremont streets. Starting Monday, the railroad also will close the crossings at Tippecanoe Street, Chili Avenue, Water Street and Lover’s Lane Road.
That means for three days, the only way to travel north-to-south through the city will be the underpass beneath the tracks on North Broadway, or detouring miles out of the way.
Peru Mayor Miles Hewitt said the city has been pushing the railroad company for months to fix the crossings, which had all deteriorated and are riddled with potholes. However, he said, the city didn’t anticipate the company would close all the crossings at once to make repairs.
“It puts the city in a bind by not leaving at least one other crossing open,” Hewitt said. “It’s something we as the general public are going to have to deal with as best we can. But once it’s done and over with, it’s going to be a 1,000% better.”
He said the city doesn’t anticipate any problems with first responders, police or firefighters reaching locations around the city, since they have locations on both sides of the tracks.
However, the situation could become dire if the city is hit by heavy rains during the three-day closure.
The underpass on North Broadway has flooded ever since it was constructed in the mid-1930s. The roadway dips around 16 feet below the train tracks, and residents have come to expect it to turn into an impassable pool of water during heavy rains.
If that happens, the north and south sides of the city will be cut off, with no way through, expect traveling miles out of the way.
The city in 2017 looked into fixing the flooding issue beneath the underpass. A consultant company priced the project at around $1.1 million. Hewitt said with declining tax revenue due to the COVID-19 outbreak, there’s no way the city will be able to afford the fix any time soon.
“It’s going to be extremely expensive,” he said.