April 25, 2018
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Complaints continue about bumpy State Street railroad crossing in Brewer

Kevin Bennett | BDN
Kevin Bennett | BDN
A pedestrian crosses State Street near the rail road tracks in Brewer on Tuesday. Brewer officials are concerned that the rubber mat between the rails has become dislodged.
By Alex Barber, BDN Staff

BREWER, Maine — Week after week, Brewer Public Works receives complaints about the extremely bumpy railroad crossing on State Street, but there’s little the department can do about it.

David Cote, director of Brewer Public Works, said he received a complaint about the crossing on Tuesday.

“We have been trying to work with the railroad to schedule a time to do repairs there, but haven’t had much luck,” said Cote. “I tried to call [Pan Am Railways] again today and I left a message. There’s no schedule as to when we can get those fixed.”

The department receives a complaint at least once a week, he said. The crossing is between the bridge to Bangor and the hill leading up to North Main Street.

Because the tracks are railroad property, the city cannot fix it without Pan Am representatives present.

Several calls to a Pan Am Railways representative went unanswered on Tuesday afternoon.

Cote explained that a rubber mat around the rails continues to pop up and potholes around the mat often develop.

Pan Am representatives have come to make repairs to the track at least 10 times in the past year, he said.

“In my opinion, their drainage underneath the tracks … has failed,” Cote said. “When you get heavy rain, the water runs along the tracks and moves material. Some of it will move out and some of it will move in. You end up with voids [in the road] and lifts in the mats on the tracks.”

The mats don’t pose a threat to vehicles as the weight of the car will push the mat down, but “obviously the holes can be a danger,” he said.

Riders on two-wheeled vehicles should be more cautious crossing any tracks.

“As far as bikes, cyclists need to be very careful crossing the tracks,” he said.

Brewer Public Works has worked well with Pan Am in the past, he said. The two worked to remove railroad crossings from Wilson Street and Parkway South. The tracks were removed and the section was paved over.

However, the State Street section is still used by the railway.

“Our goal is to do that whole section, but we need the railroad to help do it and they haven’t been available,” said Cote.

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