FORT WORTH, Texas (SWBTS) – The Fort Worth City Council voted to authorize the closure of the Gambrell Street railroad crossing on the west side of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary’s campus during its Nov. 12 meeting. The decision comes after three years of communication and cooperation between the Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway Company, the city of Fort Worth, and Southwestern Seminary, and it will make the seminary’s campus safer and quieter.
Kevin Ensley, vice president for business administration at Southwestern, said the closure of the street and the railroad crossing will provide for an immediate increase to campus security. Ensley explained that many motorists use Gambrell Street as a way to cut through to other streets, often at accelerated rates of speed.
“Removing the railroad crossing will really protect our campus,” Ensley said. “It will help increase safety on campus by reducing the amount of through traffic and shutting that down as a thoroughfare.”
The closure will also significantly reduce the amount of noise from train whistle blowing, Ensley said. Whereas trains passing Southwestern Seminary must currently blow their whistles before passing two intersections—one at Gambrell Street and the other at Seminary Drive—removal of the railroad crossing will require trains to blow their whistles only once.
Ensley pointed out that the reduction of noise will benefit Southwesterners across campus from music school students to student housing residents to faculty and students in Price Hall to the president’s office. He also expressed appreciation for Director of Facilities Maintenance Matt Elgin for his work on the project.
“He has taken this from the day of his hiring and has run with it,” Ensley said. “I would like to publicly thank him for his work on this.”
As part of the process of removing the railroad crossing, the city of Fort Worth and Southwestern Seminary will work together to close Gambrell Street to vehicular and pedestrian traffic and to construct curbs and barriers on each side of the railroad track. The railroad company, which will see a welcomed decrease in liability by crossing one less road, will reimburse the city $23,500 for its expenses in installing railroad crossing arms and other equipment. The city will also vacate and return ownership of Warren Avenue and Martin Lydon Avenue—the rights-of-way of which it originally obtained through a platting process—to Southwestern Seminary.
With the agreement now authorized, the railway and the seminary will work together to establish a time frame to begin and complete the work.