By Donna Carver
January 7, 2014
In a letter dated December 24, 2013 the Morrow County Commissioners were advised that CSX Transportation Inc. is filing a petition for closure with the Ohio Public Utilities Commission (PUCO) of the railroad crossing located on County Road Eight, Crawford/Morrow Line Road, in Washington Township.
The letter from Columbus attorney R. Leland Evans, advises that a combined offer for closure by the Ohio Rail Development Commission (ORDC) and CSX Transportation that had previously been extended to the commissioners would remain open until the Petition for Closure is filed with PUCO in early January, which once filed, is anticipated that the offer would be withdrawn.
The terms of the offer were originally set forth is letters dated April 20, 2012 and October 25, 2012.
The April 2012 letter sent to Morrow County Engineer Randy Bush stated that a constituent complaint was filed on the crossing in question. The Ohio Rail Commission reviewed the complaint and along with CSX and PUCO met with Bush in November of 2011 to discuss the possibility of upgrading the warning devices at the crossing. At the November 2011 meeting, the crossing was identified for possible closure to eliminate “redundant grade crossings.”
In the letter, CSX and ORDC offered the county $5,000 of CSX funds which may be used by the township for any purpose and $15,000 ($7,500 from CSX and $7,500 from ORDC) which could be used for highway safety improvements approved by the federal; Highway Administration.
The April letter continues to advise that if the offer were not accepted the ORDC would most likely initiate flashing lights and roadway gates improvement project at the crossing.
In a letter dated October 25, 2013 sent to the Morrow County Commissioners it is noted that the offer was rejected by the county.
Washington Township trustee Bill Creswell shared at the Township Association winter meeting that the township has been trying for several years to get the railroad to place a crossing gate there. Creswell commended the commissioners for not accepting the money offered by CSX and ORDC to close the road. “They did the right thing.” Said Creswell.
The October letter goes on to state that the crossing “inherently creates a hazardous situation.” It identified the crossing as “the second most hazardous crossing in Morrow County although there has been no documented accidents at that crossing.
The letter cites crossings at Biddle Road as an alternative route already equipped with lights and gates and they offered to modify the warning devices on an adjacent road, Township Road 32, Keiffer Road.
Morrow County Commissioner Tom Harden stated that the commissioners are opposing the closure of County Road Eight and will continue to oppose the closure because, “we feel that the people in that area deserve to have that road kept open. From 309 to the Marion County line there are 14 houses that are affected. We feel that the houses in that area would be under served if they are successful in closing that road. The money offered does not cover the inconvenience it is going to cause to the citizens on that road.” He said.