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Railroad crossing changes debated in Pa.

December 14, 2007|By JENNIFER FITCH

QUINCY, Pa. - A $1.4 million proposal has developed to eliminate the railroad crossings at Fetterhoff Chapel and Altenwald roads in Franklin County.

A new, 2,000-foot road would connect those two rural roads on the east side of the railroad tracks. Another road with better sight distance would be built to link Pa. 316 to the east side.

Representatives of Quincy Township, CSX Transportation and the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation met Thursday to look at that long-range plan and immediate solutions to problems at the railroad crossings.

One major concern is that firetrucks, which are nearly 12 feet high, don't fit under the railroad bridge on Altenwald Road, township supervisors said.

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The supervisors have asked to excavate and lower the road several inches under and around the bridge, converting Altenwald Road to one lane in the process.

"The cost is pretty high, $400,000," said Ben Dunlap, an attorney with CSX.

"We'll take care of the track, but we're not touching the roadway," said Bob Humbert, a representative of the engineering firm working with CSX.

The railroad company's position is that it does not want to contribute to that temporary project because it won't benefit from it.

The company probably would provide funding for the bigger project since it wants to see the two crossings closed, Dunlap said.

Jason Sharp of PennDOT said the estimated price tag of the larger proposal with new roads means that it will spend at least 10 years in planning. He encouraged the supervisors to talk to area legislators about funding.

"This isn't something that can get thrown together. ... There's no way we can cobble together 1.4" million dollars, Sharp said.

"Our tax base in our municipality cannot support building that road," Supervisor Kerry Bumbaugh said.

The meeting ended with an impasse and a promise that legal counsel would talk soon. Neither the supervisors nor the railroad company would agree to pay for further engineering for the alterations of Altenwald Road.

CSX said it doesn't have connection to the roadway improvements. The supervisors said CSX hadn't provided enough structural information about the bridge for earlier engineering.

"You're nickel and diming us," Dunlap said.

"I don't want to spend a dime more on design," Supervisor Robert "Bob" Gunder said.

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