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Sikeston to see more train traffic

Monday, June 28, 2004

SIKESTON - Thirty-two extra trains will crawl through Sikeston.

Sikeston City Council members approved a railroad detour agreement during this morning's special Sikeston City Council.

City Manager Doug Friend said maintenance on the railroad tracks between Chaffee and Dexter is scheduled for two eight-day periods, during which two additional trains per day will be routed through Sikeston.

"This is a temporary measure," Friend said. In the future, a permanent spur may be built. "We'll know more when they know more."

The additional trains will come down the Burlington-Northern rail and use the power plant's spur to get on the Union-Pacific track to Dexter from July 2-8 and July 16-23.

The trains will have to slow to 5 mph as they go through the power plant and will notify the Department of Public Safety "just like the coal trains," Friend said.

Because of the slow speed, officials anticipate traffic may be held up at the Wakefield and Salcedo crossings.

Friend said Board of Municipal Utilities will receive $56 per train for the use of their spur.

In other business today:

* Council members reviewed a letter from Friend to Scott Meyer, district engineer for the Missouri Department of Transportation's Southeast District, regarding an agreement to put in a traffic signal at Highway 61-Route HH/ZZ intersection.

Friend said if the city pledges its FAU federal highway funds to the project, MoDOT has indicated to Council members that they could fast-track the project and slate it for a June 30, 2005, completion.

"They'll add their money to it to make it a full-blown intersection," Friend said, with turning lanes, room for large trucks to turn and drainage improvements.

The city is now just waiting for a model ordinance from MoDOT to approve. "We've moved the ball into their court and we're waiting on them," Friend said.

The total cost for the project would be about $750,000 with the city contributing about $260,000 in FAU funds.

* First and second readings and approval of an agreement with Southeast Missouri State University for funding of a Sikeston Area Higher Education Center classroom expansion were tabled to the next regular meeting scheduled on July 12 due to the holiday.

Chuck Leible, city counselor, advised the Council that SEMO officials have "tentatively approved an agreement I drafted."

Leible said the agreement amends the original SAHEC agreement to authorize the construction of the additional classrooms at a projected cost of $2.18 million. This amount will include SEMO's "management reimbursement costs," Leible said. "Other than that, it's just an addendum to the original agreement."

Friend said this fulfill's another promise made in February related to the approval of the sales tax.

The agreement also address surplus funds from the SAHEC tax. "The money we have in that fund we will put toward the project," Friend said. He estimated the fund will contribute between $350,000 and $500,000 toward the classroom expansion project.

* The low bid of $30,600 from Sikeston Motors for a Department of Economic Development van was accepted by the Council.

Half of the amount will be reimbursed by the BMU.

* Commenting on his recent proposal to form a committee to look at the merger of Sikeston and Miner, Mayor Mike Marshall said: "People have told me why it can't happen. Nobody's told me why it shouldn't happen."