City May Ask for Hearing on Safety Features for Ellsworth High School Rail Crossing

ELLSWORTH — The city may ask the Department of Transportation (DOT) to reconsider the safety features needed at railroad tracks that cross the Ellsworth High School parking lot.

Devices to protect motorists and pedestrians need to be in place in the spring, which is when Downeast Scenic Railroad plans to begin its seasonal excursion service from Washington Junction to Ellsworth Falls.

Downeast Scenic asked for automatic crossing warning devices, lights, pedestrian bells and vehicle and pedestrian gates at an estimated cost of $250,000. The cost would be borne by either the city and/or Regional School Unit 24 (RSU 24).

“We haven’t made a decision on what we’re going to do,” said City Manager Michelle Beal. “We really would like to work with the railroad and the Department of Transportation on some type of solution. For the railroad the issue is the kids and so many of them at one time driving through that intersection.”

For the time being, Downeast Scenic has agreed to use flaggers to stop traffic before allowing work cars to proceed across the tracks.

“A train that begins and ends nowhere must be a hobby train.”
— Bill Webster, Ellsworth

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