Andy Harris correspondent

KENT: Despite growing public concern over the ongoing project to replace the Harvey Redmond Bridge, there will not be a temporary crossing constructed to connect the Kramer baseball fields to the rest of the city.

The bridge, which closed in April 2011, is the only route to access the fields and since its closing, groups that would normally use the field have had to shift to other locations around the greater Kent area.

"There’s been some frustration over the time it is taking to replace and re-open [thee bridge] which connects the Kramer ball fields to the rest of Kent, so council asked the city staff to check with the CSX railroad and ask if there was any chance to add a temporary rail crossing that would allow people to access Kramer fields until the bridge is re-opened," City Manger Dave Ruller said.

The Public Service Department contacted CSX about the issue, which would require the city to gain the company's permission to authorize a new at-grade crossing to serve as a secondary entryway in the Kramer fields.

According to Ruller, CSX informed the city that its policies require a community to show that there is no other reasonable solution to access problems before even requesting a new at-grade crossing. CSX has more than 20 trains per day, on average, pass along the tracks that border the park.

If a community can prove that there is no reasonable alternative for access, then it may petition CSX to consider a new at-grade crossing. 

The process also contains a series of policy and engineering criteria that a community must satisfy, at what is often a high cost and requires a high amount of man-hours of research, with the most stringent of the requirements being that a community must be willing to close a minimum of three existing at-grade crossings in exchange for the new crossing. 

Additionally, Kent would need to either close city streets with railroad crossings or build new bridges over the existing tracks in order to close three existing crossings, an option Ruller deemed not "particularly viable."

Once a community has satisfied all of these requirements, its request is officially forwarded to a CSX committee on new crossings for final consideration. Even then, meeting all of the criteria does not guarantee approval.

"We were given the impression that CSX policies strongly discourage any new at-grade requests and the timeline for considering such requests is usually multi-year," Ruller explained. "The feedback we got from CSX was pretty clear and I don’t believe that a new at-grade crossing is going to be feasible for secondary access into Kramer fields."

Parks and Recreation director John Idone said in January that construction on the new bridge is projected to take six months and could be completed this year if it remains on schedule.