Wichita Co. non-profit brings awareness to transportation issue

WICHITA FALLS, Tx (RNN Texoma) - A new Wichita County non-profit is looking to bring awareness to what it calls a dangerous transportation issue.

Tom and Gail Wisdom, organizers of Wichita County Action Network, WeCAN, took on the issue of the 7th Street railroad crossing one of their members told them about the chaos it causes.

The crossing connects Wichita Falls east side to its downtown.

"We've actually had people tell us stories about their cars dismantling, flat tires, and things like that," Tom said.

They spoke with city leaders, railroad officials and TxDOT engineers about possible solutions to help the community during a meeting earlier this year. One of the answers that came from that meeting was creating a sidewalk for pedestrians to walk through.

"That is a possible short-term fix but we're really trying to look at this long-term," Joseph Faust BNSF Railway Regional Director said.

"Our TxDOT colleagues are running some scenarios, run some costs, and see the inventory and see what the possibilities are," Lin Barnett, City of Wichita Falls Metropolitan Planning Organization Director said.

He said it will cost millions of dollars to make any significant changes and that could take more than ten years. That bill would be paid for by the city, state and BNSF railway. He said the city would need to look for grants to fund it.

Billy Williams said she wants a solution as soon as possible. Williams and her friend cross it every day. Both of them are physically challenged.

"Every time we come the trains are on the tracks for five to six hours," Williams said. "You be sitting here for hours in the sun for about one to two hours so you have no choice but to cross them."

Many residents like Williams cross it while trains are still on the track by walking over them or under them.

Williams said she wants a bypass over the crossing to prevent someone losing their life. She told us her sister lost her life while waiting for an ambulance after she had a heart attack.

"I don't understand why," Williams said. "They had to go to the overpass. They were coming through 7th and they had to go through the overpass to get to the Bailey Projects. When they got to her, she had gone 15 minutes without any brain function."

The town hall meeting will take place 11:00 a.m. Saturday morning at Booker T. Washington Elementary.

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