Railroad company cited for clogging busy local intersection

Moraine police have cited Norfolk Southern Railroad eight times this year for blocking traffic at the Main Street crossing between Ohio 741 and Dryden Road. NICK BLIZZARD/STAFF
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Moraine police have cited Norfolk Southern Railroad eight times this year for blocking traffic at the Main Street crossing between Ohio 741 and Dryden Road. NICK BLIZZARD/STAFF

A railroad company has been cited eight times this year for blocking a busy local intersection with railcars, sometimes up to three hours and at least one time detouring an ambulance en route to the hospital.

Police say Norfolk Southern Corp. trains have stopped traffic from crossing Main Street in Moraine, sometimes blocking traffic on nearby Dryden Road and Ohio 741.

A train was stopped at the Main Street crossing for more than a hour in March, causing a medic unit to detour en route with a heart patient. On Feb. 5, stationary Norfolk Southern Corp. railcars clogged traffic for three hours, prompting the city to place road closing signs “on both sides of railroad crossing” at Dryden and Ohio 741, records show.

Moraine police has cited Norfolk Southern each time for violating city traffic codes, records show.

“They are trying to find a way to alleviate the congestion,” Moraine Police Chief Craig Richardson said. “But there obviously is a traffic delay…when the train stops, when it is unloading or switching tracks or adding cars or taking cars off – whatever it is they are doing in the yard.”

Richardson said rail traffic has increased at the Main Street crossing in recent months and Norfolk Southern no longer has a on-site operator to oversee the railyard located between Dryden and Ohio 741. The rail line is located next to Fuyao Glass America.

In lieu of a yardmaster, police now send a summons the railroad company’s legal staff, Richardson said. An attorney for Norfolk Southern this week declined comment on the issue.

Moraine police records indicate train stoppages at the Main Street crossing have run anywhere from 20 minutes to three hours. Each of those times, Norfolk Southern has been cited for a first-degree misdemeanor for exceeding the city’s maximum five-minute stopping time at street crossing, records show.

“Most of the time, the train stops, it slows, it backs up and moves forward a little bit because they’re either switching tracks or they’re switching cars off of that train onto another track and the movement is very slow and very incremental,” Richardson said.

“They do have a legitimate reason why they’re working in the yard,” he added. “It’s just they’re blocking traffic when they’re doing it. And we’re trying to take care of it. ”

The Main Street crossing is the only one in Moraine impacted by the issue, Richardson said. The railroad tracks run under the Northlawn Avenue bridge and over Arbor Boulevard.

“It’s a pain. We’re trying to deal with it,” Richardson said. “I think it’s getting a little better. But it has caused some traffic problems.

“And it’s difficult when the yardmaster is (several) counties away….but we are working toward a solution,” he said.

Jodi Mitchell, a West Carrollton resident who uses the intersection on a daily basis, said she has been stuck on Ohio 741 once when the train was backed up.

“It’s annoying,” said Mitchell, who added she has noticed increase vehicle traffic in the same area this year. “I’m not sure what is cauing it.”


RAILROAD CITED

Since Jan. 1, the Moraine Police Division has issued eight citations to Norfolk Southern Corp. They include:

•Jan. 3: 6:33 p.m. lasting about 30 minutes.

•Jan. 8: 730 p.m. lasting about 24 minutes.

•Jan. 15: 8:17 p.m. lasting about 30 minutes.

•Jan. 29: 6 p.m. lasting about 20 to 25 minutes.

•Feb. 5: 757 a.m. lasting about three hours.

•March 10: 3:30 p.m. lasting about an hour.

•March 12: 8:28 a.m. lasting about an hour and 15 minutes.

•April 1: 8:51 a.m. lasting about 30 minutes.

SOURCE: Moraine Police Division.

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