Communication is best plan

Published 9:58 pm Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Following many years of complaints from residents, the railroad crossing on East Washington Street between Philhower Drive and Portsmouth Boulevard is finally getting replaced.

City officials announced earlier this week that the work would take place. It was set to last from Wednesday morning to Friday afternoon, although it may get delayed by weather.

The existing asphalt surface will be replaced with concrete panels, which should result in less jostling while driving over the tracks and less maintenance required, city spokeswoman Diana Klink stated this week.

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The work is taking place at the request of the city of Suffolk, which is a good thing. It means the city has been advocating for its citizens with the railroads to try to get improved maintenance and a more timely plan to replace elements of crossings that have outlived their usefulness.

We’ve advocated for that in this space before, after a couple of derailments in recent years have affected residents and businesses who live nearby, not to mention motorists.

With more and more growth at the Port of Virginia, there’s more traffic on the city’s railroads than any time in recent memory. The port seems to be setting a new record every month for the amount of cargo it handles, and much of that cargo is being shipped to and from the port by rail going through Suffolk.

Regular communication from city officials is the only way CSX and Norfolk Southern will be aware of the concerns of Suffolk residents, and they are myriad — maintenance of both at-grade and grade-separated crossings, replacement of dilapidated crossings, safety devices, train speed through town, the frequency and length of trains that waste Suffolkians’ time sitting in traffic and other concerns should be regularly communicated.

While it may have been a long time coming, we appreciate the city keeping the concern about the East Washington Street crossing in front of the rail company. Keep it up.