A construction crew uses heavy machinery to line up a piece of railroad track during a project aimed at repairing and replacing the crossing on Fourth Street, which has been the subject of complaints from motorists for years.

A construction crew uses heavy machinery to line up a piece of railroad track during a project aimed at repairing and replacing the crossing on Fourth Street, which has been the subject of complaints from motorists for years.

Photo by Sarah Wojcik


CN repairing 3 railroad crossings in Royal Oak

By: Sarah Wojcik | Royal Oak Review | Published April 25, 2019

 Crews work on replacing a railroad crossing on Fourth Street, near Lincoln Avenue, April 24. Officials urge pedestrians to avoid crossing during construction, as trains are still running and signals are down for maintenance, and to seek an alternate route.

Crews work on replacing a railroad crossing on Fourth Street, near Lincoln Avenue, April 24. Officials urge pedestrians to avoid crossing during construction, as trains are still running and signals are down for maintenance, and to seek an alternate route.

Photo by Sarah Wojcik

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ROYAL OAK —  On April 22, CN Railroad closed the roads at Fourth Street and Lincoln Avenue to repair two railroad crossings. Detour routes include 11 Mile Road and Sixth Street for vehicles and Fifth Street for pedestrians.

Engineer Matthew Callahan said the railroad would also repair the pedestrian crossing at Fifth Street, and all work is scheduled to wrap up May 6.

“All of the work going on out there is 100% funded by the railroad,” Callahan said. “There’s a little bit of sidewalk we’ll have to do and cover the cost of in certain spots.”

For months, the city and CN Railroad have been in talks about the repairs. The city of Royal Oak, as well as the state of Michigan, has received complaints about the crossings for years — specifically the crossing on Lincoln.

Callahan said the city contacted the railroad numerous times over the last three to four years without hearing back, as well as the state of Michigan, which oversees the railway crossings.

He said CN Railroad was supposed to do a repair in the fall, but in a transition involving multiple retirements and new people, some of the projects on the back burner were overlooked.

“We desperately needed CN to repair those crossings for some time,” Royal Oak Mayor Michael Fournier said. “Earlier this year, I called a meeting to order with Matt (Callahan), the city manager, CN Railroad representatives and myself. We had a really good discussion.”

Fournier said all parties agreed to move forward with the repairs, and Callahan said the communication between the city and railroad turned “friendly, very open and receptive.”

“The primary concern was the fact that (the crossings) just weren’t navigable. I know people were taking other routes and avoiding the tracks,” Fournier said. “The trains are all still running. This is a temporary inconvenience, so we all have to be patient and mindful of the pedestrian crossings being closed and add a little extra time to get to where we’re going.”

On Fourth Street, Callahan said, the wooden ties and anchors attached to the steel rails were coming up and off between the tracks. On Lincoln, he said the ties were loose and there was no support anymore, so they were bouncing around and some were sinking into the ground, with water eroding the sides around the tracks. On Fifth, he said the concrete was uneven and the tracks were moving up and down, making it unsafe for pedestrians to cross.

“The railroad will be replacing the wood ties, bolstering the stone structure underneath and installing new decking to make the crossing smooth for vehicles to drive across,” he said.

Royal Oak Downtown Manager Sean Kammer said the city was getting reports of bolts and nails from the tracks being dislodged on the crossings.

“From the response we’ve gotten since the announcement we made, it was a very popular move by CN to come out right now,” Kammer said.

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