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GOSHEN -- Planning for a proposed pedestrian railway underpass at Goshen College is back on after it recently hit a slowdown.
Jim Histand, vice president for finance at the school, said the project was stalled after Norfolk Southern told the school that if it built the underpass, it wanted the school to close all five other crossings. He said the company's position is that every crossing creates some risk, but he said the college believes that if students don't have enough crossings, they'll cross illegally, which is even more dangerous.
"Our perspective is that that may be true as it relates to vehicular crossings where a car can easily move a few blocks either way and go to a different crossing," Histand said.
But Histand said the school has received a formal letter from Norfolk-Southern agreeing to approve the project if the school closes just one other crossing. Under that proposal, the school would have one underpass and four other pedestrian crossings.
The train tracks run through the middle of the entire campus, requiring students to wait for trains to pass as they walk to their classes from the residence halls.
In December, a student sustained a severe injury to his leg after he was hit by a train while lying near the tracks south of the college. However, the accident occurred just off-campus and on a day where no classes were scheduled.
The underpass will be located at the crossing that is immediately east of the main entrance and crosses right between the library and the Umble Center, he said. The crossing that's there now will be the one that closes. Histand said he believes that is the most-used crossing on campus.
Histand said the project has been in planning stages for about two years. He said it's hard to say when it will be completed.
He said the college is now moving ahead with plans to complete engineering design work for the project.