North Road Bridge to stay open
The North Road Bridge in Darien Township is open and will stay that way thanks to an agreement between the town and the Wisconsin and Southern Railroad.
The Wisconsin Office of the Commissioner of Railroads has canceled Wednesday night’s public hearing on the matter and will take the railroad’s petition to close the crossing off the books, Wisconsin & Southern spokesman Ken Lucht said.
In the fall of 2007, town of Darien officials closed the North Road Bridge because the wooden deck was damaged, town Chairman Cecil Logterman said.
The bridge crosses a stream that flows into Turtle Creek. Just to the north of the bridge is a busy Wisconsin & Southern Railroad line.
The bridge was re-opened this summer, but in June, the railroad petitioned to have the crossing closed permanently.
Railroad officials cited traffic safety as the primary reason for closing the crossing. But Logterman said the quiet country road is a major artery for residents and emergency responders in eastern Rock and western Walworth counties.
Officials met for a tour of the site, and both sides are expected this week to sign a settlement agreement.
As part of the agreement, the town will:
-- Be responsible for clearing all brush within a 300-foot radius of the bridge.
-- Install stop signs.
-- Work with the Walworth County Sheriff’s Office to provide increased law enforcement at the crossing.
-- Work to replace the bridge. Town officials have just started talking about the project. The 2010 budget could include money for engineering and construction. The new bridge will have less of an incline than the current one, Logterman said. And the road approaching the bridge could be widened, Lucht said.
Twice a day, trains run over North Road between Janesville and Chicago. In addition, local delivery trains use that section of the railroad for a staging area when they get ready to switch onto a spur to Darien, Delavan and Elkhorn, Lucht said.