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Phoenix officials vote to make critical safety upgrades to railroad crossing

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PHOENIX — Officials in Phoenix have agreed to make critical safety upgrades to a railroad crossing that could have otherwise been shut down this weekend.

The Arizona Corporation Commission voted unanimously on Thursday to approve a plan from city officials that would make critical traffic signal and railroad crossing safety enhancements to the crossing at 35th Avenue and Indian School Road. The vote was made at at an emergency meeting.

The plan was originally submitted on Wednesday. The commission, which oversees railroad safety, voted last week to order the Burlington Northern and Santa Fe Railway Company to close the crossing Saturday unless a plan for the safety enhancements was submitted.

The plan will move the pre-signal and stop bar to the south side of the tracks. It also included a 12-month review and evaluation of the crossing upgrades.

City officials stated Thursday that it would begin work immediately, with plans to pour the pole base over the weekend, according to a statement from the commission.

Chairman Tom Forese said in a statement that the commission “[applauds] our municipal partners for coming to the table to provide us with a plan we have been asking for over the past five years.”

Commissioners said city, state and rail officials have failed to follow through on improvements first proposed in August 2013.

A closure would have inevitably created ugly traffic jams, as 35th Avenue connects to Interstate 10.

“I am excited to see a solid plan that will make immediate improvements,” Commissioner Justin Olson said in a statement.

“This intersection has been named as one of the most dangerous crossings by the Federal Railroad Administration and it’s critical we address those safety concerns.”

The Phoenix intersection was named by the Federal Railroad Administration as one of the nation’s most dangerous crossings.

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

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