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City council presented with railroad master plan

WICHITA, Kansas - Tuesday, the Wichita City Council was presented with a railroad master plan that suggests ways to improve traffic in Wichita.
"Primarily, we're looking at separating traffic and railroad traffic, so you have a greater flow of traffic and less interference," said Alan King, Wichita Public Works Director.
Anyone, who has ever waited for a train at a railroad crossing, can agree to that.
Trains coming through Wichita can be up to a mile long with waits that can seem just as long.
"Traffic does get backed up."
Stephenson manages Big Bob's Carpet Outlet.  He see trains backing up traffic around his business several times a day.
"When it's backed up, they are more likely to either turn around or take a side street and not come in the business."
That's why the city has been working on a plan since 2009. 
"There is a significant amount of delay and a significant amount of exposure for safety in these locations.  This project would reduce those significantly," said Sarah Clark, project manager. 
The plan in south Wichita calls for elevating the tracks over the roads from Lincoln to Pawnee and expand the single track to a double track.
The cost of that would be around $120 million.
"When you're talking about those kinds of costs, it will be necessary for us to look for federal or other funds to build those," said King.
In north Wichita, streets like 29th and 21st have several sets of tracks that are proposed to move further east and elevate the road over those tracks.
The cost of that part of the project would be $100 million.
Besides freight traffic, the study also looked at the best sights for passenger train service. 
"The most attractive place would be downtown where the existing depot site is."
 Now, it's up to the council to decide if the changes will happen and how they will pay for it.
This is just one of the many projects the council is looking at, and no decisions on the railroad plan were decided.


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