CSX work could close Northern for two weeks

September 10, 1997


Staff Writer

Northern Avenue could be closed for between two days and two weeks this October as CSX Corp. repairs a rough railroad crossing city residents and politicians have been complaining about for years.

Hagerstown officials were encouraged by CSX's effort to repair the crossings sooner rather than wait until November, but were concerned about closing Northern Avenue.

"Two weeks sounds almost to the point of being ridiculous," Councilman Lewis C. Metzner said during the mayor and council's Tuesday afternoon work session.


Last October, Amtrak had a crew replace a crossing at Frederick Street in two days, said City Engineer Bruce Johnston.

Mayor Robert E. Bruchey II said citizens could stomach having the road closed for two days, but not two weeks.

If the work must take more than a week, perhaps a lane could remain open to traffic, said Councilman J. Wallace McClure.

Northern Avenue is a major traffic artery with 14,000 cars traveling the road a day, including traffic to and from Northern Middle and Fountaindale Elementary schools, officials said.

Detours could include Longmeadow Road or rerouting cars deeper into the city, said Assistant City Engineer Rodney Tissue.

Johnston said CSX officials might be suggesting a two-week schedule out of spite.

City officials had threatened in August to sue the railroad and the Maryland Department of Transportation if rough crossings at Northern Avenue and Park Lane were not repaired promptly.

City officials said they weren't that concerned about closing the Park Lane crossing for two weeks.

Stephen C. Thienel, CSX's regional vice president of state relations, said he expects repair work will take up to two weeks for each crossing with work on Park Lane starting after Northern Avenue is done.

Thienel said he would talk to CSX engineers about whether the work could be done in less time.

While it took Amtrak only two days, more work is required on Northern Avenue than was done on Frederick Street, Thienel said. It could take two days alone just to get a contractor to repave the crossings, he said.

A track will be removed at each crossing, helping to eliminate part of the rough crossing problem, Thienel said.

Thienel also said CSX officials would be concerned if only some of the lanes were closed during the repair work.

City Administrator Bruce Zimmerman said city officials will hold off on suing CSX and the state for now, but wouldn't dismiss the possibility of a future lawsuit. City officials need to make sure the work gets under way, he said.

CSX will pay for the work, including paving the two crossings, Thienel said. He said he didn't know how much the project would cost.

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