Second track for Union Pacific Railroad could impact Lee’s Summit development

rpulley@lsjournal.comOctober 25, 2013 

Trains passing through downtown Lee’s Summit are a common sight that might become more frequent if plans for adding a second track south of this Third Street railroad crossing comes to pass.

RUSS PULLEY — the Journal

Transportation officials propose building a second Union Pacific Railroad track that would run through Lee’s Summit, Greenwood, and Pleasant Hill alongside existing tracks.

The track would stop just short of Fourth Street in Lee’s Summit.

The Missouri Department of Transportation is gathering reactions to the idea in a low-level environmental study on plans for adding track between Lee’s Summit and Strasburg.

It is part of an ongoing project to make it easier for passenger and freight traffic to travel without congestion between Kansas City and St. Louis.

In Lee’s Summit, the plan could affect development of commercial and industrial areas south of U.S. 50 East and west of Missouri 291 due to consolidation of rail crossings.

The improvements would make the corridor more efficient for the four daily Amtrak trains and about 30 freight trains to pass each other, said Sara Clark, an engineer with TranSystems, a consulting firm hired by MoDOT to work on the study.

It would allow trains to run at higher speeds in the corridor (90 miles-per-hour instead of 50) and perhaps a few more trains, she said.

“It couldn’t be a large increase (in trains) because it still goes down to one track (north of) Fourth Street,” Clark said.

The department held an open-house style meeting Oct. 22 at Lee’s Summit City Hall to present the conceptual plan. Double-tracking in the corridor is already built in some sections of the state.

MoDOT isn’t suggesting any changes for the downtown crossing in Lee’s Summit, Clark said.

Lee’s Summit Councilman Rob Binney, who attended the open house, said he’d have concern if the number of trains jumps from 30 to about 40 daily, because of potential impact on Third Street car traffic. He said he is going to ask that the city Public Works Department to look into that issue.

Binney also had questions about the plan for Lee’s Summit’s crossings.

The plan there consolidates closes crossing at Hamblen Road, near the city landfill, and Thompson Drive on the west side of the tracks.

That’s an area on the city’s south side of U.S. 50 where there’s room for additional commercial and industrial development.

An overpass for Bailey Road, (under construction) would be an alternate route for motor vehicles to cross the tracks in that area.

A proposed extension of Thompson Drive would connect it with Hamblen where Hamblen now runs on the west of the track. But the plan would eliminate east-west traffic at that point and vehicles only alternative would be Bailey Road farther north.

Binney said limiting east-west access could inhibit development. He suggests a proposed bridge over the tracks at Hamblen Road as well.

He said MoDOT could shift the location of a bridge that’s now part of the rail plan, which is penciled in a little farther south, on the north side of Greenwood.

The project is still in conceptual stages, no design engineering is ready and MoDOT hasn’t identified funding for the local project or estimated cost.

MoDOT now is completing the report required by the Federal Railroad Administration. That study includes public comments on safety for the rail crossings, noise and other impacts of adding the second track. For more information or comments contact Sara Clark at sjclark@transystems.com or 816-329-8772 or go to http://www.modot.org/kan

sascity/newrelease/Dist

rict4Release.shtml?act

ion=displaySSI&newsI

d=189553. MoDOT is asking for comments be sent by Nov. 4.

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