EATON — On Wednesday, Sept. 14, Preble County Commissioners officially approved a crossing closure and project funding agreement with Norfolk Southern Railway for three railroad crossing closures which have been a topic of debate for months.
Prosecutor Marty Votel presented commissioners with the finalized agreement, and said there would be some “punch list” items left to complete, including working with County Auditor Lavon Wright to create line items and accounts, and other things. Votel had previously gone over a draft of the agreement during the commission’s Monday, Sept. 12, meeting.
Per the agreement, NSR will close the crossings on Oxford Gettysburg, Conley and Daily Roads, in exchange for compensation. Oxford-Gettysburg Road will be closed at-grade crossing “per a mutually agreed upon timetable but in no case later than 15 months from the date payment is made by the company,” the agreement noted.
NSR will remove any siding presently blocking Crawfordsville-Campbellstown Road and any siding presently blocking West Florence-Campbellstown Road no later than the formal closure of Oxford-Gettysburg Road.
Conley and Daily Roads were permanently closed effective Thursday, Sept. 15.
In exchange, the county will receive $2,400,000 to fund the infrastructure upgrade at Toby Road, between Ohio 122 and U.S. 35.
Because the agreement was signed before Sept. 15, NSR is paying the county an additional $100,000 per closure as a bonus ($300,000.) The county will present a grant application for an additional $300,000 to the Ohio Rail Development Commission, and NSR will support it, according to the agreement.
Prior to the permanent closure of Oxford-Gettysburg Road the company, at its sole expense, will construct two appropriately-sized hammerhead turn-arounds north and south of the Oxford-Gettysburg crossing.
“I need to do some research to determine what, if anything, needs to be done to legally vacate those little sections of road and have them removed from the plat,” he noted. “I don’t know if that’s something I’m going to have to do or not. So there are some punch list items after the execution of this, but the heavy lifting has been done. The only other agenda item that you can expect in the near future is a proposed written agreement from the ORDC regarding their $300,000 I was presented with.”
The additional agreement with the ORDC will be reviewed with County Engineer Kyle Cross and then presented for commission approval.