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Don’t close Elliott Avenue RR crossing

Years ago, the late Melvin “Sarge” Hammerstrom was considered a “gadfly” by the Glencoe City Council. He had a few special concerns he wanted the Council to address, and he would not take no for an answer. Relentless would be a good word for him.
Sarge also was about as hard of hearing as a door knob, so there was no use arguing with him.
Sarge was insistent in getting the railroad crossings fixed within the city. It was all about safety to him, and the crossings, at nearly all the avenues in central Glencoe, were not exactly safe.
Twin Cities & Western (TC&W) was the new owner of the old Milwaukee Line at the time, and it was not about to invest its capital into repairing all the railroad crossings without something in return. For repairing the main crossings in town — Union, Pryor, Hennepin, Greeley, Elliott and Chandler avenues — TC&W wanted an equal number closed.
As a result, the city was left with numerous dead-end streets that are blocked off with barriers at the railroad tracks. Driving down 13th Street or 12th Street, a driver can see where they wanted go, they just can’t get there because of the all the street closings. The result is a longer route to Pryor or Hennepin avenues in order to get on the other side of the tracks.
Fast forward to today, and the Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT) wants to complicate our lives even more. MnDOT has propositioned the city to close the Elliott Avenue crossing. A public hearing is set for Thursday, June 8, at 7:15 p.m., before the city planning commission.
Why close the Elliott Avenue crossing? We’re not sure.
So I went to city hall to find out. I was told the railroad division of MnDOT is in charge of carrying out a plan to close as many railroad crossings in the state as possible. Elliott Avenue was determined to be one.
The state has sweetened the pie. It will pay the city $50,000 to close the crossing. That folks, is a classic carrot in front of the mule!
Getting around the city is already complicated enough with the previous street crossing closings, an epidemic of stop signs, future plans to close Union Avenue with the Morningside extension project and plans to possibly close a portion of Judd Avenue (13th Street to 14th Street) as part of the upcoming central corridor sewer and street reconstruction work.
The recent opening of the “Street to Nowhere” (Judd Avenue between 10th and 11th streets) has added another piece to the disjointed street system in Glencoe.
The closing of Elliott Avenue will only add to the difficulties. Since a new fire station is not a sure thing, closing Elliott Avenue would negatively impact firefighters trying to get to the fire hall, which is along Elliott Avenue, south of the railroad tracks.
We need to rethink MnDOT’s plan. Go to the June 8 public hearing and let MnDOT know this is a bad idea.
While I’m on my high horse, the cutting down of more trees on 11th Street in front of the Municipal Light Plant has added to my head scratching. Is it only me who thinks Glencoe officials love to tear out or cut things down?
Why remove these perfectly healthy-looking trees?
Because the tree roots were causing issues with the Light Plant’s sidewalk. So, the trees had to go.
Anyone ever think tearing out the sidewalk instead? It probably would have been less expensive, and it would eliminate shoveling in the winter, too.
I was told the one block of sidewalk is used a lot.
By whom?
Mostly by migrants at Seneca Foods, I was told.
At this pace, in a few years we can get rid of our city leaf vacuums because there won’t be any leaves to pick up.
Rich Glennie was the editor of The Chronicle for 23 years. He retired Aug. 1, 2014, but still plans to submit an occasional column.