When it is finished, Shankle said the ditch will carry water runoff from the housing authority's Gateway Crossing housing community to a drainage pond at the Hagers- town Business Park.
Shankle said CSX officials told him that the dirt is contaminated because several decades ago, a creosote facility operated near the construction site.
Although the ditch should be completed by March 1, Shankle said the housing authority has been waiting since late last summer for CSX to remove the dirt.
Shankle said the housing authority's contractors started excavating the ditch last March at an estimated cost of $875,000. But CSX halted construction about a month later after railroad officials determined a creosote facility operated there, he said.
The delay caused the original contractor to pull out, forcing the housing authority to find another contractor and redesign plans, Shankle said.
Those plans included digging in another spot that was away from the former creosote facility, Shankle said. Additional delays were encountered when excavating crews ran into dense rock.
Excavation didn't resume until August, Shankle said. The extra work, coupled with the redesign plans, increased the project's cost to about $1.5 million - roughly $625,000 more than the original price, he said.
Shankle said the funding to build the ditch came, in part, from federal and state grants.
Instead of covering drainage pipes in the ditch with excavated dirt, Shankle said workers will use topsoil from Pennsylvania. He said shipments should start arriving within the next few weeks.
Sease said the creosote facility operated on the site from 1930 to 1953. At the time of the facility's closure, he said Western Maryland Railway owned the land.
CSX acquired the property during a 1980 merger, Sease said.