I have not seen this issue properly addressed in the media nor at a council meeting. This is a very important issue to be brought forward as it affects our city and surrounding communities.
Nearly 11 months after they first approached the City about railroad crossing closures, Norfolk Southern Railroad Company were back in town approximately 2 weeks ago to once more pursue this agenda. At a meeting with Councilmen Bartello and Troup, they demanded agreement from the City to their plan to close most, if not all, crossings under the guise of cost cutting measures.
Their claim is that each railroad crossing closed will save them $250,000 in maintenance costs – against a current market valuation for this giant corporation of almost $22 billion, such figures pale into insignificance. If these closings were to be allowed, the scenario would allow them to run their trains through Sunbury at much higher speeds than the currently allowed 20 mph.
Cost to Our City
The cost of these proposals to our City and surrounding areas in human terms would be far from insignificant. Apart from the obvious traffic gridlock and chaos, there is the more serious issue of first responders being unable to quickly get to the scenes of fires, accidents, or to the Sunbury Community Hospital with ill patients or critically injured accident victims. Every resident is aware of the frequent flooding experienced at the Reagan Street underpass and the crippling affects should a train be passing through the city at the same time. The act of permanently closing these crossings will effectively cut the city in two.
The clock is ticking and it is unclear to me why the Mr. Persing and Council have been sitting quietly on this issue rather than taking a stand and loudly proclaiming their opposition. Doing nothing is not an option and only serves to permit Norfolk Southern to proceed as planned, and to the detriment of the citizens of Sunbury – the very people who they were elected to protect and represent. The more advanced these plans become the harder they will be to reverse.
A line must been drawn in the sand and made clear that these types of demands are unacceptable. Why is this issue not been opened to public discussion? Why is there reluctance to act? In the name of democracy, the citizens should be empowered with the knowledge of what is taking place in the community.
For Joe Bartello’s report on this meeting, please check Not The Item.