Neighbors split on possible Pouley Road closing

By on September 9, 2011

by Sandy Kaczmarski
ELBURN—About nine people, including two township trustees, showed up at a public meeting to express their opinions about possibly closing the at-grade crossing at Pouley Road, if requested by Union Pacific once the Anderson Road bridge is complete.

Lisa Hodge lives on Denali Road in Native Prairie and said she’d like to see the crossing closed not only because of the increased traffic from the train station, but because of the train whistles.

“The issue is they (train engineers) totally lean on the horn when they’re coming by Pouley Road,” Hodge said. “So we’d like to see it closed for the sound.”

The Bergquist family lives just north of the tracks on Pouley and disagreed with the idea of closing the roadway. They want it to stay open.

“I just don’t like having one way out,” Joan Bergquist said. “I hate to see it closed.”

She said in the winter, the drifting snow often closes the north end of Pouley, forcing them to travel south across the tracks. Despite living right alongside the tracks, she said the train whistles aren’t a problem.

“We don’t even hear the whistles any more,” she said. “You get used to them.”

Her daughter Vicki said that safety is her main concern.

“Getting onto (Route) 38 sometimes is impossible in the wintertime,” she said. “Pouley Road to the north drifts shut and you can’t get through.”

Joan’s brother Norm and his wife Diane also said they wanted to see the road remain open.

Jan Jorstad, who lives on the old part of Pouley Road south of Keslinger, wants to see the crossing shut to preserve the historic heritage of the Compton farm. She and her neighbors formed the Pouley Road Preservation Society to protect the area.

“When I moved here, I fell in love with Pouley Road,” Jorstad said. “We’ve tried to preserve this wonderful country feeling we have around here because of all the development. We are all for that closing.”

She said closing the crossing would reduce the volume of traffic on the unpaved portion south of Keslinger Road.

Denny Hawks lives just north of the Bergquists and is concerned about how he’s going to move his farm equipment if the crossing is shut down.

“I farm, and moving machinery down Route 38 is just a pain, so we take everything down Keslinger Road,” he said.

Fred Dornback, Blackberry Cemetery sexton who chaired the meeting, emphasized that the meeting is just a preliminary effort to gather public input.

“There’s no known agency or group saying we need to close Pouley Road,” Dornback said. “If and when it happens is contingent on the completion of the Anderson Road bridge.”

That’s something Dornback doesn’t expect to happen for a while.

“In my opinion, we’re looking to the middle of this decade before a car crosses that road if all the stars align,” he said. “There’s a lot more to do.”

Despite plans for the Elburn Station development that begins with the completion of the Anderson Road bridge, there remain unresolved issues regarding easements and right-of-way between six landowners that would be affected before the bridge work would begin.

Highway Commissioner Rodney Feece explained that the process for closing the crossing would start with Union Pacific filing a petition with the Illinois Commerce Commission, which ultimately would make the decision. The township successfully stopped such an effort in 2004 when the railroad petitioned to close the crossings at both Pouley and Brundige roads. He said in case the issue comes up again, he wants to have public comments available to present.

Blackberry Township will accept public input for the next 90 days. Comments can be e-mailed to roads@blackberrytwp.com or mailed to the office at 43W390 Main Street Road, Elburn.