Halstead’s railroad gate likely to remain open

HALSTEAD—Halstead city officials are no longer expecting to close the railroad gate east of town.

Following the most recent meeting with BNSF officials late this afternoon, City Administrator Ethan Reimer said the city has no immediate plans to close this gate.

“We’ll play it by what’s going on and continue to watch the water levels, but we’re hoping it’s hit a slowdown point,” Reimer said, adding that while he doesn’t think the river has crested yet, it’s not rising fast.

As of 4 p.m., the river level was at 20.8 feet.

“There’s a ways to go before there would be an actual and immediate threat there,” Reimer said.

He noted that the guideline to shut this gate when the river surpasses 20 feet was recommended by the Army Corp of Engineers when the flood control project was completed in 1994.

Every flood event is different though, he added, and so the city uses the 20-foot mark as a guideline, not a hard rule.

He said there is still a “small chance” of closing the railroad gate if the river starts rising faster, but there is currently no rain in the forecast.

As for the Main Street gate, Reimer said it was very unlikely that this one would be closed since it sits up higher and is usually the last to be closed. The only time he knew of this gate closing was a partial closure in 2007 to help control foot traffic across the bridge. He wasn’t aware of any time that the Main Street gate had been fully closed, latched and sandbagged.

Reimer added that the flood control project of the levee and the gates is serving its purpose in keeping water out of Halstead.

“It’s not really flooding in Halstead—it’s flooding around Halstead,” he said.

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