: Norfolk Southern trains are causing problems for Beaver residents and emergency responders.
Norfolk Southern trains are halted for several hours. The problem is getting worse, and many fear that the worst is still to come.
Bridgewater Crossings is a beautiful property with views of Ohio River and passing trains. Kathy Eckelberger felt the same way when she moved into the condo complex a month or so ago.
“We all agreed that when we moved to this area, we knew that there were trains. We also knew that there would be a train that would pass through periodically and you would be stopped,” Eckelberger stated.
She and her neighbors were surprised to find Norfolk Southern trains blocking the only exit and entrance to their homes. It can take anywhere from 30 minutes to almost six hours. If they are not stopped, then they are moving at a snail’s pace. Or the train may have passed but the crossing gate is still down.
“You could probably just step up on the rail and walk straight across. Eckelberger said, “That’s how slowly it’s moving.”
Chuck Betters, the owner and builder, said that the property only opened a year ago. When he first proposed the project, it was no problem.
Betters said, “They’ve reduced the value of my property substantially.” “I would not have invested the millions of dollars that I did.”
He has called Norfolk Southern multiple times and claims he never receives a straight answer. Chuck Bates, Borough Council President and Fire Chief, is no different.
“They said that nothing had changed in our program. They shouldn’t stop there unless a problem with the locomotive or an accident is ahead’, and I said “Well, they have been stopping and we are getting tired of it,” Bates said.
Fire crews were trapped on the property in March 2022 while responding to a small fire in a kitchen. They would have been stuck if they were called to another emergency.
Bates said, “It hinders our ability to do our job.”
He can’t recall ever having seen trains stop at the Bridgewater Crossing in a long time.
Bates said, “These trains are getting longer and longer. That’s why they are stopped here, waiting for a signal to get into Conway Yards, waiting on the signal.”
The crossing is located 2.11 miles from the railroad yard and half a mile east of Beaver Crossing.
Bates said, “If they stopped before the Beaver Crossing, they would have 3+ miles of nothing they would be impacting.”
He hopes Norfolk Southern, and lawmakers, take action before it is too late.
“Just stop. Keep my tracks here open. Let my people in and out. Bates said, “Use their heads.”
Norfolk Southern was contacted by KDKA-TV for a comment. Connor Spielmaker, a spokesperson for Norfolk Southern, said:
“We work hard every day to keep our trains running safely and efficiently so that we can deliver the goods which power the U.S. Economy and be a good neighbour in the communities in which we not only operate, but also live. Our teams strive to minimize the time that we are required to occupy a crossing when our trains are delayed. We work with local communities whenever there is an acute or recurring problem to find long-term solutions. We never want a stopped train to cause any inconvenience to anyone in the community.”
He added, “Often, trains have to stop at specific points outside the yard in order to allow others to pass,” and explained that block crossings became more common in recent years because of labor shortages.
Bridgewater officials have said that they have yet to hear from Norfolk Southern about a long-term resolution. Betters has said that he is in the process filing a lawsuit against Norfolk Southern.
There are no laws that require trains to move if there is an emergency. State and federal attempts to address this issue have failed in the past. There is still hope. The proposed bipartisan Railway Safety Act sponsored by U.S. Senators Bob Casey, John Fetterman and others would work to prevent blocked crossings.
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