Residents concerned about rail crossings

Published 10:09 pm Monday, May 15, 2017

Members of the Oakdale, Pierce Park and Magnolia Civic League plan to speak out at Wednesday’s City Council meeting about a problem that surrounds them.

“We’ve been surrounded by tracks all our lives,” said Rosa Bowe. “But this is the worst.”

The civic league is urging repairs to railroad crossings in the area, particularly on Suburban Drive and on East Washington Street just south of Portsmouth Boulevard.

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At the crossing on Suburban Drive on Monday, most drivers turned from Portsmouth Boulevard and sped up to get up the hill that leads to the tracks. They then slowed to a crawl to cross the tracks. Those that didn’t slow down were punished with the resounding thump of loose boards flying up and hitting the underside of their cars.

Bowe said some people have had damage to their vehicles from the boards.

“It only takes one time of hitting it the right way, and you will remember,” she said.

The crossing is a busy one, as it leads to Food Lion, the closest grocery store for thousands of residents in the neighborhoods off East Washington Street, White Marsh Road and other streets south of Portsmouth Boulevard.

At the East Washington Street crossing, bolts are sticking up and boards are splintered, with the splinters lying in the cracks between the tracks and the pavement.

“Maybe CSX can handle it next week,” Bowe said optimistically. “Sooner, not later, is what we want.”

Laura Phelps, manager of media relations for CSX Transportation, said by email Monday that plans are in the works to repave the East Washington Street crossing sometime this year. A construction agreement and work schedule still need to be finalized, she said.

As for the Suburban Drive crossing, Phelps said CSX is not aware of complaints about its condition but will visit this week.

“Our engineering experts will examine that crossing this week to determine if temporary repairs are necessary until the next regularly scheduled crossing maintenance project can be completed,” Phelps wrote.