FAIRFIELD — Pan Am Railway representatives made good on a pledge Thursday and met with town officials to talk about repairing crumbling railroad crossings.

They talked about sharing the cost of fixing some crossings and the town closing down two streets near others.

The meeting came after the town put public pressure on the company. Two signs, at a cost of $300, were recently set up at the Lawrence Avenue railroad crossing, directing people to slow down and to direct complaints to call Pan Am’s 800-number.

Fairfield officials said Pan Am had been unresponsive to complaints about the crossings. Pan Am Railways, based in North Billerica, Mass., operates more than 300 miles of track in Maine.

Town Manager Joshua Reny said Thursday he met with five company officials, including James Patterson, the vice president of engineering and mechanics, at the Fairfield Community Center.

“It was a productive meeting,” Reny said. “I think simply the fact that they came with five folks ready to have a serious discussion demonstrates they want to accomplish something, that they’re interested in being good neighbors and trying to come together to figure out a solution.”

Even so, the Pan Am officials made one thing very clear: “If we’re looking for them to come in and rebuild crossings 100 percent on their dime, it’s not going to happen,” Reny said.

Reny said they discussed two main options for repairing crumbling crossings.

One possibility would involve the two crossings deemed in the poorest condition, on Burrill and Summit streets, in which the company and town share the cost of repair. Pan Am, at an estimated cost of about $60,000, would install a new section of rail, while the town would be responsible for about $15,000 worth of work for new asphalt and re-grading the road.

Crossings at Lawrence and Western avenues were also identified as needing repairs in the next five years or so, Reny said.

“If we’re willing to work with Pan Am, they can start work this construction season,” Reny said.

Another possibility is that the town applies for federal money, through the Maine Department of Transportation, that’s made available if the town closes Elm and Willow streets at their respective railroad crossings. Essentially, the streets would be converted into dead-ends at the crossings.

Patterson said he looked at those crossings a year ago and thought they were safety concerns, Reny said.

Reny said he plans to meet with state transportation officials to learn more about that option. The Town Council will also need to discuss what options they’d like to pursue, he said.

The downside to applying for federal money, Reny said, is the funding would be available next year at the earliest, if at all.

Scott Monroe — 861-9239

[email protected]


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