Jackson Twp. Trustees say solution to train blockages is an overpass


HOYTVILLE — In an effort to deal with train crossing blockages and escalating damage to their roads, the Jackson Township Trustees are asking for a railroad overpass.

Trustees Greg Panning and Brendyn George attended the Toledo Metropolitan Area Council of Governments General Assembly meeting on Jan. 20 with plans to deal with rail crossing blockages by the CSX Railroad.

“I realize they have a business to run,” Panning said there are many reasons they have been given for the trains to stop and block the crossings. “We’re asking for an overpass on the state route, to deal with the railroad blockage situation. It would eliminate the need for trucks to use township roads to continue on their deliveries.”

Ohio 235 and Ohio 18 merge on both the north and south sides of Hoytville, for about a mile and a half, and cross the railroad track that leads to the CSX intermodal facility in North Baltimore. It’s a spot where trains frequently block the intersection, sometimes for many hours. Vehicles then look for a new route to the other side of the tracks.

“CAFO traffic, deliveries, or regular traffic in general, when you have a state route that everybody utilizes, whether it’s Ohio 235 or Ohio 18, if that crossing is blocked, everyone that is utilizing that road has got to find an alternative route,” Panning said. “If a train breaks down, it could be hours.”

He said that their contact at CSX tells them the reasons for the blockages and considers him very helpful. All it takes is a text message or phone call, but that only results in an estimate for the blockage time span. Sometimes a new crew is needed, or a repair has to take place, but there are also other reasons.

“I’ve actually seen them stop an engine, on the tracks, back a fuel truck up to the engine, and fuel up right on the state route,” Panning said. “So they blocked it just to fuel the train. I’ve actually seen that. It was well over a half hour. They can do whatever they want.”

Panning knows an overpass has been built before.

“There’s already an overpass in Henry Township. It allows traffic to drive over the trains,” Panning said.

George is also a farmer. Blocked train crossings also happen outside of Hoytville. He once had to drive his 22-foot-wide combine 62 miles to get to the other side of the tracks.

When CSX introduced the intermodal facility they said the traffic would increase by 75 trucks a day, Panning said.

“If I was a betting man, I’d say it’s more like 300 to 400 trucks per day. I don’t know. Some go east toward (Interstate) 75 and some go west. I don’t know an exact number,” Panning said.

When the trucks go around the crossing, they end up using township roads. Panning and George agreed that the increased volume of heavily loaded traffic is chewing up their roads, whether that be from the dairy CAFOs or intermodal trucks.

Now UPS is also putting in a new facility that will add more traffic volume, they said. The township can’t afford to fix that level of necessary road repair.

“This year our road budget is $250,000, for 69 miles of roadway we maintain,” Panning said.

The average cost to pave a mile of road is $100,000, according to Panning. That is only the cost of the pavement, not additional costs for rebuilding that might be necessary.

The first meeting of the day at the TMACOG conference in Perrysburg last month was with the Township Caucus. Ohio Sen. Theresa Gavarone, R-Bowling Green, sat in on that meeting. Panning and George met with TMACOG officials after lunch. They are also setting up meetings with officials from the Ohio Department of Transportation and the Wood County Engineer’s Office.

Gavarone ended that TMACOG township caucus meeting making Panning and George feel like something could happen, they said. She is now the majority whip and chair of the Local Government Committee. Panning is planning a meeting with her, and hoping that she will come to Hoytville to talk with trustees and see the situation first hand.

No posts to display