To the editor: I want to thank Jeff Prince for his story (“Cross about the Crossing,” June 17, 2009) about the very contentious meeting of Riverside residents with the City of Fort Worth, the Trinity Railway Express, and our city council member, Kathleen Hicks.
Mr. Prince gave an even-handed, no-dog-in-the-fight look at our issue. It helps to have our voice heard outside of the neighborhood.
Now, let me explain why we don’t want a quiet zone. The city and the TRE came to us initially wishing to close Galvez – we believe, as a first step in realizing their vision for our neighborhood as a limited-access community. We said at that time that we didn’t want a gateway to the neighborhood closed.
They came back again, this time with the “quiet zone” offer, and again the people who cared enough to attend the meeting said politely but firmly, thanks but no thanks.
Now they are back again, this time with our councilperson in tow, re-presenting the quiet zone as a safety measure. By this time we are not nearly as polite as we have been: The answer is NO!
Russell Wiles, the city’s railroad projects manager, cited the three accidents, one fatal, that have occurred since 2002 at that location. Let’s look at those accidents. One involved the trailer of an 18-wheeler that was backed across the tracks, blocking the train’s path. The fatality was the result of an impatient motorist who pulled his car around four other cars, crossed the oncoming traffic lane, and went through two gates blocking the track to put himself and his passengers, including a young mother, in harm’s way.
Prior to 2002, all the way back to 1945, there was only one incident at the Galvez intersection, and it was more likely a murder than a train accident.
At the Beach Street crossing, there have been two fatalities in roughly the same time period, and the city is not trying to close that crossing.
We don’t want the street blocked with a striped barrier and ROAD CLOSED sign because of the ongoing problems that this will invite into our neighborhood, not to mention the message that it sends to those on Riverside Drive.
We don’t want a quiet zone because we have children who walk to school and cross those tracks. Also, we have senior citizens who cross the tracks in motorized carts. Approaching the tracks, if they hear the train horn, they know to wait. We are afraid that without the horn they may be caught on the tracks as the arms descend.
There are issues about those tracks that we are concerned about, the main one being that neither the city nor the TRE does any maintenance along the right of ways, resulting in severe overgrowth, wildlife nesting along the tracks, and totally unsafe conditions. They don’t want to discuss that though, only the closing of the street and creation of the quiet zone.
One last thing: Once they successfully close Galvez, their next target is the crossing at Judkins Street.
To the city, the TRE, and Ms. Hicks, the residents of Riverside say thanks for your concern, but please answer the pleas of some of those neighborhoods that are clamoring for a quiet zone.
Phyllis W. Allen
To the editor: Jeff Prince’s story puts into perspective the subtle discrimination and Trojan horse tactics employed by officials to gain access first to your mind, then to your land. The article made clear why we need to be prepared, like the Boy Scouts.
The Riverside folks held their resolve, and they damn sure didn’t just fall off the turnip wagon, as Fort Worth’s railroad project manager found out. Obviously, Russell Wiles believes that Riverside, a heavily minority area, needs exploitation, and that appears to be the ulterior motive: Get the quiet zone installed, and use eminent domain to satisfy some developer hiding in the bushes. Remember, the trains came first, then the residences. A lot of folks like the sounds of train horns and whistles – they’re a blast from the past.
I applaud Phyllis Allen’s refusal to capitulate. It might help her group’s cause to contact their state representative and also U.S. Rep. Kay Granger, to ensure that Riverside stays the way the local folks want.