BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - Two months after a proposal to make changes to railroad crossings in Baton Rouge was derailed at a public meeting, DOTD Secretary Dr. Shawn Wilson and leaders with the city of Baton Rouge made good on a promise on Tuesday, January 23 to get more public input at a scheduled community forum at McKowen Baptist Church on Louise Street.
"There was a tremendous outcry that folks felt like they had not been heard," said Wilson. "The concerns were that we perhaps missed some key statistics and data points that we needed to look at and as a result, we decided that it was in our best interest and in the state's best interest to extend the public comment period."
The original plan was to permanently close some Kansas City Southern Railway Company crossings throughout the Capital City while making improvements to others. The overall goal of the effort is to increase safety. "I would hate to have to come out on this particular corridor as I have on others to see a death or see a collision," said Wilson.
Wilson believes while getting more feedback is important, he admits they will ultimately have to recommend something that may not please everyone. Until then, he says he's all ears for what folks have to say.
"I hope to hear some ideas and suggestions on how we might be able to improve elements of this corridor knowing I may not have the resources to do all of those, but we're going to listen and make a more informed decision," said Wilson.
There were still many concerns, with some folks worried the changes will cause too much of an inconvenience. Jeannette Dubinin left the meeting relieved though, saying she's confident in the process and the way forward. "I did feel that it was an honest response and given the public process, his belief in the public process, I think it's going to turn out favorable for the comments that have been provided," Dubinin added.
There's still one more opportunity for the public to weigh in on the matter on Monday, January 29. Wilson says all the input will be reviewed before a final recommendation will be developed.
Wilson says the final recommendation will be presented to the public, but did not set a specific time for when that will happen.