With road to McGregor blocked, access off Marquette Bench a concern

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By Audrey Posten, Times-Register


The Marquette City Council, at its April 11 regular meeting, agreed to give two OB-GYNs who live in the city’s bench neighborhood access to the bench evacuation route should the normal route out of the neighborhood be blocked by a train during an emergency.


Mar-Mac Police Chief Robert Millin said he’s been speaking with the doctors’ employer, Crossing Rivers Health in nearby Prairie du Chien, about the scenario for several weeks—since McGregor’s Main Street construction project began. 


Because of the project, there will be no access from Marquette to McGregor via Highway 76, between towns, through November. This cuts off residents’ alternate route out of town should a train block the crossing at Anti-Monopoly Street (in front of the casino) or further up the road near the bridge approach.


“If that scenario presents itself, they are requesting access to the evacuation route, to go up and around,” Millin said.


The evacuation route, which runs from the Marquette bench to Eagle Drive in McGregor, is closed to vehicular traffic outside emergency situations. It is blocked with a chain and padlock.


Millin said he did not object to giving the doctors special access—a sentiment the council agreed with.


“But I don’t recommend residents,” Millin said. “If we allow other residents, that road is going to deteriorate fast.”


Public works director Jason Sullivan also referenced safety.


“It’s not wide enough,” he said. “Someone will go off.”


However, limited access off the bench is a concern for others.


“I’ve had a lot of residents talk to me about the whole thing, with the construction going on and the trains,” said council member Dave Schneider, who lives in the neighborhood. “I’ve experienced it myself. Last week, I sat there for 40 minutes behind a train.”


If residents experience extended delays, Millin said they should continue to call Canadian Pacific Railway at 1-800-716-9132. Provide the date and time, location of the blockage, length of blockage and engine number, if possible. In Marquette, the casino crossing number is 376178N and Highways 18 and 76 (under the bridge) is 376179V. Additionally, the marina and boat launch is 376181D and the boardwalk is 376182D.


Millin said he also had a recent meeting with Canadian Pacific. “In the event of an emergency, I have direct numbers to their dispatch,” he stated.

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