Deteriorating rail crossing in Thames Centre

Throughout the afternoon on Thursday, vehicles could be seen slowing to a stop before slowly cross the CN Rail tracks on Shaw Road.

Some would do a slalom over the crossing trying to avoid dips in the road.

Thames Centre Mayor Sharron McMillan said it’s been going on for too long, “Patches here and there not doing the trick.”

The rail line crosses Shaw Road just north of Catherine Street, along the northwest corner of Dorchester. The speed limit at that point is 50 km/h.

McMillan said, according to CN’s own guidelines, that’s how fast traffic should be able to travel, “Their standards are that traffic should be able to pass and re-pass over those railway tracks at the posted speed.”

Neighbours say the asphalt has been patched at least three times in half-a-year and holes quickly re-appear. The last patch was on Feb. 2.

Community leaders say repairs aren’t keeping pace with degrading pavement at a CN Rail crossing on Shaw Side Road in Thames Centre. (Gerry Dewan/CTV News London)

Jim Crane is a retired CN repair crew supervisor, “When I was a track supervisor all those years, never once did I ever get a crossing in this disrepair. Never!”

Crane worked almost 37 years for CN Rail. He told CTV News people are being put at risk when they have to slow or stop at the rail crossing, “There was somebody that was crossing with a truck and a trailer that got stuck in there.”

Crane said concerns are amplified when fast moving Via Rail trains are passing through. He said the last thing anyone want is for someone to hesitate or panic.

Steve Collins has lived in a home at the northeast corner of Shaw Road and Catherine Street, “When they fix it it’s good, but how many times can you fix it in a year, right?”

Collins believes trucks carrying gravel is the biggest contributing factor to the crossing degrading so quickly.

There are about a half-dozen gravel pits in the immediate area and he said a large number of trucks will cross Shaw Road, “Summer day, or a nice building day, there would be a hundred trucks through here. Up and down, back and forth.”

Thames Centre officials want to see a longer-lasting repair like the one at the CN crossing on Highway 73. (Gerry Dewan/CTV News London)

He said more and more, those trucks have the long trailers with a pup on the back.

The number of trucks is expected to dramatically increase as construction on the massive gigafactory in St. Thomas ramps up. That factory will provide electric vehicle batteries for Volkswagen.

Highway 73 had similar issues with gravel trucks at its CN level-crossing until a significant upgrade was put in place designed to handle the loads carried by the gravel trucks.

That’s what municipal officials are hoping to see at Shaw Road. They’ve been told by CN that a reconfiguration has been put in the budget for 2024.

McMillan wants assurances that it’s a fix that will last longer than a few months. She stressed, “We’re considering this a matter of public safety.”

 

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