Track/road crossing finally fixed — with a six-figure price tag

FROM ROUGH TO RELATIVELY SMOOTH — Motorists and their passengers no longer have the jarring and jolting experience they once did, as they drive over the railroad tracks that intersect West Highbanks Road. DeBaryites have waited for years for the Florida Department of Transportation to improve the crossing by replacing the old railroad ties with concrete panels. A similar improvement is in store for the railroad crossing on Fort Florida Road.

After years of waiting, the crossing of the CSX railroad track and West Highbanks Road in DeBary is now a smoother point for drivers and their vehicles.

The Florida Department of Transportation has improved the crossing, but the cost was not cheap: The project ended up costing approximately $500,000.

In fact, a few more upgrades remain to be done.

“It took a long time to get there,” Mayor Karen Chasez said. “This thing took three years to put together.”

FDOT used two SunRail contractors to make the improvements.

Herzog Technologies Inc. installed new roadway crossing gates and pedestrian crossing gates, along with the signals and electrical wiring.

Bombardier Transportation installed new concrete panels, tracks, rail ties, ballast and sub-ballast in the railbed, as well as stabilizing the tracks and paving the roadway. Remaining tasks include constructing a sidewalk along the side of West Highbanks Road; placing concrete panels at the pedestrian crossing; and putting up another pedestrian gate. The finish-up work remains to be scheduled.

Now that the railroad crossing at West Highbanks Road has been upgraded, DeBary officials are looking forward to the improvement of the rail crossing with Fort Florida Road in June 2020, according to FDOT. The estimated cost of improving that crossing is also about $500,000.

As with the Highbanks Road crossing, DeBary did not have to pay any of the cost and will not be required to share in the expense of the Fort Florida Road crossing. The approval and funding for the projects came from the River to Sea Transportation Planning Organization, which reviews and ranks transportation proposals in Volusia County.

“When you go for TPO dollars, there’s a lot of competition,” DeBary City Manager Carmen Rosamonda said, referring to the long wait for funding for projects conceived and designed in years gone by.