Commissioners approve negotiations for RR road closures


Daily, Conley, Oxford-Gettysburg to be closed, county receiving funds

By Nathan Hoskins - [email protected]



Daniel Mullins, a facility maintenance foreman for CSX Transportation, drops a 17-foot post into a hole while replacing railroad crossing signage on South Dixie Highway in Lima on Monday.   Craig J. Orosz | The Lima News

Daniel Mullins, a facility maintenance foreman for CSX Transportation, drops a 17-foot post into a hole while replacing railroad crossing signage on South Dixie Highway in Lima on Monday. Craig J. Orosz | The Lima News


EATON — The Preble County Board of Commissioners met on Monday, Aug. 22, with Preble County Prosecuting Attorney Marty Votel, Sheriff Mike Simpson, Eaton Fire and EMS Chief Brian Smith, County Engineer Kyle Cross and representatives of Jackson Township, Washington Township and National Trail School District, to discuss the ongoing railroad-crossing closure proposal from the Ohio Rail Development Commission (ORDC) and Norfolk Southern (NS.)

Votel began the meeting by giving those present an overview of the offer made by NS and ORDC, which is the closure of the Conley Road and Daily Road railroad crossings, as well as closing Oxford-Gettysburg railroad crossing. These closures would be permanent in accordance with the conditions of the offer made by NS and ORDC.

If the county were to agree with these stipulations, NS would provide $300,000 to be used at the county’s discretion should Conley and Daily be closed by the middle of September, with Oxford-Gettysburg being closed at a later date. NS also intends to install turn-around outlets for traffic at the Oxford-Gettysburg closure and barricades and signs where appropriate.

In addition, ORDC will match the offer made by NS with an extra $100,000 for each railroad crossing the county chooses to close, up to $300,000. This offer is in addition to a prior offer made by NS to restore Toby Road to county standards, costing an estimated $2.7 million, which the county will invoice to NS for payment.

This information was presented by Votel, and gathered from correspondence he had with Matthew Dietrich, Executive Director of ORDC.

As far as when construction would start on Toby Road, Cross said, “If this offer would be accepted by the board, construction could begin considerably sooner because it would take the OPWC (Ohio Public Works Commission) money out of the equation. One of the strings attached to the OPWC money is we could not start construction until July 1 of next year. I don’t know that this fall is really realistic, other than some very minor prep work, but I do think it could be started as soon as next spring to begin on it.”

Bob Fischer, Superintendent of National Trail School District said, “I would say from a school standpoint, we have (bus) routes that are running now. So that’s going to substantially change our routing and bus times and commitment to our families. So, we need to know a timeline to start planning. If it’s something that’s going to take place prior to the holiday season we need to get moving on that.”

Trustees from Washington and Jackson Townships expressed their concerns for their constituents and how the additional traffic caused by the proposed closures will cause wear and tear on their roads, as well as inconvenience to their communities. However, they also understood Toby Road will be completely restored and Oxford-Gettysburg Road will not be closed until April of 2023, tentatively.

Cross expressed his opinion the whole project could be completed by 2023 if the appropriate decisions were made sooner rather than later.

From a safety standpoint, Smith noted, “I don’t think it’s going to impact us any differently. I could definitely use an upgraded Toby Road, for sure.”

Simpson added, “I think it’s probably just retraining.”

Both Chief Smith and Sheriff Simpson are aware the closures will require their departments to reroute. Simpson also expressed curiosity regarding funding for technology which might give their departments a heads-up regarding blockages along railroads, and if such funding could be provided from NS or ORDC.

“My understanding is that ORDC’s ability to contribute is limited to $100,000 per closure, so that $300,000 is all inclusive,” Votel said.

Commissioner Rachael Vonderhaar noted, “The decision by the Ohio Supreme Court last week really kind of gave guidance as to what we need to think about when we don’t have the opportunity to fine them for trains sitting. There’s nothing for us to do when a train is impacting us at this point. So, the only opportunity we have, as recourse, is to promote the opportunity to take a different road.”

The board voted to authorize Votel to continue negotiations with NS and ORDC to close the aforementioned roads, and restore Toby Road to county standards.

In other business:

• The board approved funding to a number of county departments, including the Engineer and Jobs and Family Services.

• The board approved estimated funding to remove a county-owned gas line from property on 615 Hillcrest Drive recently purchased by Somerville Bank.

Daniel Mullins, a facility maintenance foreman for CSX Transportation, drops a 17-foot post into a hole while replacing railroad crossing signage on South Dixie Highway in Lima on Monday. Craig J. Orosz | The Lima News
https://www.registerherald.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/41/2022/09/web1_railroad-cossing.jpgDaniel Mullins, a facility maintenance foreman for CSX Transportation, drops a 17-foot post into a hole while replacing railroad crossing signage on South Dixie Highway in Lima on Monday. Craig J. Orosz | The Lima News
Daily, Conley, Oxford-Gettysburg to be closed, county receiving funds

By Nathan Hoskins

[email protected]

Reach Nathan Hoskins at 937-683-4057 and follow on Twitter @NathanHoskins13

Reach Nathan Hoskins at 937-683-4057 and follow on Twitter @NathanHoskins13