EATON — Preble County Commissioners and other local officials met once more with representatives from Norfolk Southern Railroad on Wednesday, Aug. 17, to discuss an agreement and concessions NS is willing to make as they close two area crossings.
“I want to thank everybody for their patience as we work through our project and how it affects the county,” William Miller said. “We’re here this morning to respond to the May letter and the requests the county made.
“There were several things that the county had asked for us to consider, and what we’re willing to do is fund the road project to bring Toby Road up to the county standards from Washington Jackson Road all the way up to Route 35 at a cost of $1.8 million or do the dynamic sign package that we had estimated to be about $650,000 to include four signs at different locations as we presented in one of the previous meetings. We’re not positioned to do both. It’s really one or one or the other,” Miller said. “So we would respectfully ask the county to consider which option you want to do. And let us know.”
Miller attempted to sweeten the deal. “If we can come to an agreement to close the two crossings in question, we would provide an additional incentive of $100,000 if we can reach that agreement by mid-September.”
“The project construction has begun,” Miller said. “As some of you probably have noted, the estimated in-service date for the siding extension is April of 2023. Regardless of what you do, the siding is still going to be shortened in Campbellstown.”
“So those two crossings are not within siding limits. That’s going to be an improvement, no matter what,” Miller said.
NS agreed to pay the county for any damage incurred on the roadway as part of the construction agreement.
“Hopefully we can come to a decision pretty quickly because we’re in the middle construction of this project,” he added.
Miller said if the county were to agree with the other offers and closing the crossings in mid-to-late September he could ask for a turnaround for school buses, etc. be constructed at the Oxford-Gettysburg crossing.
“I don’t have authority to guarantee that, but you know, if the county were to say ‘that’s a condition. We’re good with these other things. We’re good to close the crossings, in mid-September to late September.’ If you do that, I’ll certainly ask and try to gain approval for that,” Miller added.
Preble County Commissioners previously met with Norfolk Southern Railroad on Monday, March 21, with county, municipal, National Trail Local School district officials, and others in attendance. At that meeting, Miller provide the county with some updates on plans for potential crossing closures the railroad first announced late last year. Norfolk Southern was seeking the county’s support in closing the Daily and Conley Road railroad crossings as a project to shorten a railroad siding in Campbellstown is completed. Norfolk Southern also proposed large signs at four locations to let drivers know if there’s a train at the crossing or not before they head down the road. Railroad officials asked county commissioners to assemble a list of requests regarding the closings, which the board did and sent in a letter in May.
Jackson Township Trustees and National Trail Local School officials also question what they will get out of the agreement.
No decision was made or announced last week regarding the commissioners’ potential agreement with Norfolk Southern.
Reach Eddie Mowen Jr. at 937-683-4061 and follow on Twitter @emowenjr.