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Wrong side of tracks

Signs will warn motorists of rough crossings

Signs will warn motorists of rough crossings

August 25, 2007|By DAN DEARTH

HAGERSTOWN - The City of Hagerstown will put CSX railroad's telephone number on signs at railway crossings so motorists can complain about the condition of the tracks.

Earlier this month, the Hagerstown City Council told City Engineer Rodney Tissue to place the signs at four crossings - one on Oak Hill Avenue and three at Park Circle.

Tissue said motorists find it rough going over the tracks because the rails are sinking at the crossings and the wooden ties are rotting away.

The 30-inch-by-36-inch signs will be installed in about two weeks and, besides listing CSX's phone number, will warn motorists that rough tracks are ahead.

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City officials have asked CSX several times over the past six months to fix the tracks, but the railroad said it has more pressing issues, especially a train-and-truck terminal in Chambersburg, Pa., Tissue said.

"It's not that (CSX) said they won't (fix the tracks)," he said. "They just won't fix them anytime soon."

Bob Sullivan, a CSX spokesman, said the railroad fixed crossings earlier this month in Hagerstown on Northern and Pennsylvania avenues.

The city requested that those crossings be fixed before the start of this school year, and CSX responded accordingly, Sullivan said.

"We want to and are cooperating with the city," he said.

As soon as CSX crews are available, they will repair the other four crossings, Sullivan said.

In the meantime, the city hopes an influx of calls to CSX from frustrated residents might create a greater sense of urgency.

"We must do whatever we can to expedite having these much needed repairs completed for the betterment of our community," Councilwoman Alesia Parson-McBean said.

Councilman Lewis C. Metzner said he believes the city has used signs in the past to persuade the railroad to fix crossings.

"I think it's the most effective way to create public pressure to get things done," he said.

Metzner said he thinks CSX is dragging its feet because the railroad doesn't hesitate to block traffic and inconvenience motorists to serve its interests.

Councilwoman Penny M. Nigh referred to the railroad as the "big, bad monster."

Nigh said she supports the signs, but isn't sure they will solve the problem.

"You can only do what you can do," she said.

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