The News-Telegram wants to help its readers answer those types of questions that you’re not sure where to turn for help. Readers can email questions to
and the News-Telegram staff will answer them in the Tuesday edition as soon as we can get answers. Railroad Crossings Question: How much longer will we have to endure the two roughest railroad crossings in the state, namely Houston and College streets? Answer: The answer to this question was quickly provided by C. Doniele Carlson, AVP Corporate Communications and Community Affairs, Kansas City Southern. “KCS has plans to make improvements at the Houston Street crossing within a couple of weeks,” Carlson said in an email Monday morning. “Materials are ordered and plans are underway to address the College Street crossing within a couple of months.” In pursuit of an answer to the question, we also talked with Sulphur Springs City Manager Marc Maxwell; Wayne Defebaugh, president and general manager of Blacklands Railroad; and Brad Johnson, general manager of Northeast Texas Farmers Co-op, through whose property the tracks run. On Houston Street, there is new concrete pavement on both sides of the railroad crossing and there is a gap of about 50 feet that is filled with pot holes and rails of a Kansas City Railroad spur that extends to the North East Texas Farmers Co-op plant and connects with Blacklands Railroad. “It's very clear where the railroad right-of-way is, where the spur crosses Houston Street,” Maxwell said. “We work right up to the edge of where we can and then we stop. “What's interesting about that example is that at the moment, KCS is claiming that that's not their spur to maintain — that it would be the responsibility of North East Texas Rural Rail District, which is extremely interesting to me because KCS required the city to pay thousands upon thousands of dollars for plan review, engineering, flagmen, etc., to run our water lines underneath the spur,” Maxwell said. “Now they are claiming it is not theirs.” The city manager said that he is going to recommend to the city council that a lawsuit be filed against KCS to recover the money the city had to spend to meet the railroad’s requirements. “Everybody else wants them to fix the crossing,” Maxwell said. “We are not going to sue for that — we just want our money back.” At the crossing on College Street, the height of the rail is considerably lower than the pavement on the street and is extremely rough and, that too, is an issue with Kansas City Railroad. Defebaugh said Monday that, although the Houston Street crossing is very near Blacklands rails, the tracks and right-of-way belong to Kansas City Southern; he is interested in seeing the crossing properly repaired. The job, however, is up to KCS. The rail spur runs through North East Texas Farmers Co-op feed mill and connects with the Blackland rail. Brad Johnson at the Co-op said the crossing on Houston Street has become so rough that he has had to reroute feed trucks away from the crossing to prevent further damage to his trucks. Johnson also suggested there could be safety concerns at the Houston Street crossing for school buses. Although the College Street crossing has much more auto traffic, Houston Street is in much worse condition and, according to the railroad company spokesperson, will be addressed “within a couple of weeks.” Now that the question has been answered, we are going to hang around to see if Kansas City Sothern's plans stay on track or get derailed.