POINT PLEASANT — The Mason County Commission recently met for its regularly scheduled meeting, discussing a CSX crossing issue at Brown Lane.
Several residents from the area were in attendance to speak on the issue of trains being stopped for longer than 15 minutes, blocking passage to their homes on a private roadway.
One resident, Patti Edwards, commented the major concern is how unsafe having a blocked passageway for extended periods of times is for all of the residents. Edwards said she has been trying to get the issue resolved for the past four years, visiting with and/or trying to contact various government officials. She explained she met with West Virginia State Chief of Staff Mike Hall and West Virginia State Delegate (R) Jim Butler one time and they informed her they would not be able to help unless the road became public as it is currently private. Edwards explained she looked into West Virginia state law about trains stop time limit and she said when crossings are public the stop limit is 15 minutes, whereas there are no guidelines on private crossings.
Also, she discussed a meeting held with Rodney Whaley from Federal Railroad Association (FRA), CSX representatives, and others. During the meeting, Edwards explained Whaley considered the situation “a disaster waiting to happen” and CSX representatives commented the trains are getting longer because of business increase.
Edwards further discussed the train’s stops follow no schedule either, so planning around the stops is practically impossible. She commented school children as well as workers are facing the issue of being to late to school and/or work at times. Edwards said the wait times on the trains can be as long as 2 1/2 hours. One resident shared stop times from August which ranged at various times and various lengths.
Dennis Zimmerman, emergency manager for Mason County, shared he drove down to the crossing one day to assess the situation and commented it does not matter whether or not a crossing is private or public, a train should only remain stopped for 15 minutes. However, Zimmerman added, a train during a slow roll does not count in the allotted 15 minutes and a slow roll can last at least 20 to 25 minutes.
Zimmerman explained a lot of the glycol CSX is transferring by train now used to be shipped by riverboat making the trains much longer than they used to be. He commented their business is increasing and when the trains stop it is not for the “fun of it” as stops are a huge expense. Zimmerman added the only time when rail cars would split during work is for emergency situations.
He suggested the residents call the CSX crossing police when the train’s stop time goes over the 15 minute limit and he advised the residents to try and get a schedule through APG. Also, he suggested the residents visit the CSX website and voice their complaints.
The residents informed Zimmerman and the commissioners they have tried these tactics and have not had success. They explained they will receive letters from CSX, but no further resolutions after the letters.
The commissioners discussed with Zimmerman and the residents what they could do to help and the commissioners decided to schedule a meeting with M&G along with the concerned Brown Lane residents to discuss the matter further and try to find a solution.
In other business, the commissioners discussed a recommendation to solve the issue of the signage placement at Mason ball field and touched on dilapidated properties within the area.
Also, the commissioners approved and accepted the Community Correctional grant and the JRI grant; approved two part-time hires for the Mason County Animal Shelter; approved the budget revision for the general fund for the 2019 fiscal year.
Erin Perkins is a staff writer for Ohio Valley Publishing. Reach her at (304) 675-1333, extension 1992.