- Tuesday, Feb. 6, the New Iberia City Council voted to close the railroad crossing at Caroline & St. Peter streets.
- This comes after a 12-year dispute between the DOTD and council. The council said they tried their best to keep the crossing open, but it was too expensive.
For more than a decade, the New Iberia City Council and Louisiana's Department of Transportation and Development (DOT) have been at odds over what to do with a certain railroad crossing in the city.
Now, after a 12-year dispute, the council says they have 'given in,' voting to close the railroad crossing at Caroline & St. Peter streets.
"The consensus is that the residents don't want Caroline closed," said Councilman Marlon Lewis during Tuesday night's council meeting.
"It's the railroad that's running the show," said Mayor Freddie DeCourt. "DOTD is caught in the middle; I'm not sticking up for DOTD because I don't like the way some of these things are handled. But the railroad's driving the bus."
The council was to vote between two options: Either close the railroad crossing at Caroline St., or close the railroad crossing at Deare St.
"So, [DOTD] put this standard in that you should only have so many crossings per a community per mile of track," explained DeCourt, "...ok well, we don't fit that standard."
The DOTD also voiced safety concerns over the fact that the crossing at Caroline St. has been operating without safety arms. However, due to the hefty price tag it would take to install safety arms, the council decided against it.
"We don't have a half a million dollars to put the railroad—cross [arms] in," said Councilman Dan Doerle. "But if one car gets across and someone gets killed, then the blame comes on us."
Hoping to save some money, the council previously proposed repurposing safety arms that aren't being used. The DOTD rejected this.
"We're talking about moving a mechanical arm that could break, once you take it up and move it somewhere else. So I could see the liability on the state," agreed Lewis.
The votes stood at 3-3 for closing Caroline St., until Mayor DeCourt placed his deciding vote, effectively moving forward with the process of closing the Caroline St. railroad crossing.
"...Might not like it, but I'm voting yes," said DeCourt.
"I mean this is just a classic case of David and Goliath," said Mayor Pro Tem Ricky Gonsoulin, "and David's not winning this battle...Goliath's gonna take over."