Judge denies injunction for railroad crossing closures

AMITE, LA (WAFB) - Work to rip up two railroad crossings in Tangipahoa Parish will soon be back on after a judge denied an injunction by the parish council.

The Tangipahoa Parish Council has said the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development (DOTD) did not follow proper procedure to close the crossings. However, Judge Bob Morrison ruled the state was in compliance. He added he did not understand why the state was so quick to take up the road, but he did side with them in the end.

The focus of the hearing was two rail crossings in the village of Tangipahoa. One is Capace Road and the other is Rev. J. White Road. The council there took DOTD to court, trying to get an injunction for them to re-open those two roads. They say the state has threatened to close them for 10 years.

The state labeled the roads as dangerous because there are no safety arms or lights. Lawyers for the state asked the parish president if he remembered calling that intersection dangerous after four teens were killed there years ago.

The issue Wednesday was whether or not DOTD followed proper procedure to notify the parish it was going to close the two crossings. The parish president testified he received an email alerting him to the closing less than a day before DOTD blocked off the crossings. Days later, workers were tearing up the roads and residents were not notified.

"If anything, we'll get the state to change the rules and somebody else won't suffer," said Councilman Carl Bruno. "I think we were the guinea pigs."

Something else brought up in court was an amendment passed by the Louisiana Legislature last year that DOTD must send letters to those residents who live within two miles of the affected crossings. However, lawyers for the state argued the process for closing these rail crossings started before that law went into effect, so officials didn't have to follow it.

The state said it is already discussing how to better alert residents in the future. One plan is to put notification signs along the roadways, so people will know of upcoming closings.

Council members said they'll discuss at Monday night's council meeting whether they should appeal the judge's ruling.

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