CSX’s bumpy crossing still on repair list

A rough railroad crossing at the western end of the Washington Street Bridge is slated to be replaced later this summer, which is welcome news for drivers who have been calling for the repairs for more than a year.

“That’s not good for your car to have that much of a jolt every day,” noted Judy Grize, who owns Bellevue Street bed and breakfast The House on Harmar Hill not far from the crossing.

The tracks, which cross over Fort Harmar Drive, have sunk over the years due in part to heavy traffic flow, and they have been causing a very bumpy ride for crossing vehicles.

Grize, who passes over the tracks on a daily basis, has been adamant that railroad company CSX needs to do something about the bumpy patch, she said.

“CSX needs to fix it. It’s a state route. It has major truck traffic on it,” she said.

CSX has been in discussions with Marietta officials about fixing the track “for some time,” said CSX representative Carla Groleau this week.

“CSX plans to replace the crossing this year,” she said.

Marietta City Engineer Joe Tucker said CSX tentatively plans to replace the tracks in early August.

There are two types of crossings that could be put in, he added.

The first type of crossing would consist of wooden planks leading up to and crossing the tracks and CSX would entirely cover the cost of the replacement.

However, CSX could also replace the current crossing with a concrete one, which would last longer and provider a smoother transition for cars, said Tucker.

However, in that case the city would have to cover the extra cost, approximately $23,000, said Tucker.

Tucker plans on bringing the upgraded renovation option up at the next session of Marietta City Council’s finance committee.

Grize is apparently not the only one who feels the railroad company has been neglecting the crossing for too long.

Months ago, an anonymous handmade sign was affixed to a “No Left Turn” sign just yards away from the tracks.

“CSX PLEASE FIX RAILROAD CROSSING,” reads the sign.

Donny Beaumier, who owns Before & After Remodeling and also lives on Harmar Hill, said he is anxious to see the problem fixed.

“With the people swerving from side to side, it looks like chaos,” he noted.

Residents who frequently cross the tracks have a preferred method, said Beaumier. Some think edging to the right will provide a smoother ride. Some think the left is best, he said.

Beaumier’s business includes a dump truck and a couple of full-sized pickups which usually cross the tracks at least twice a day, he said.

But why the company has waited so long to fix the tracks is a mystery, said Marietta Councilman Harley Noland, D-at large, who lives on Bellevue Street but tries to avoid the rough tracks.

“It’s just incredible that CSX hasn’t done proper repairs,” he said. “That is a major thoroughfare.”

CSX has a “prioritization process for maintenance and repairs along our system,” said Gorleau, though she would not elaborate on what factors go into prioritizing one area track over another.

That is something Noland would be interested in knowing more about, bringing up two areas of local track that have been prioritized above the Fort Harmar Drive section.

Last fall, CSX replaced a rail line that runs down the middle of Harmar between Lord and Lancaster streets.

And just more than a year ago the company did a complete replacement of the crossing approximately 3.5 miles south of the Fort Harmar Drive crossing on Ohio 7, said Tucker.

“Here we have both the heavy truck traffic and the city traffic,” he said.

CSX did do repair work on the Fort Harmar Drive crossing in the summer of 2009. However, the last major overhaul of the track near the bridge occurred more than a decade ago, recalled Grize.

The rough patch has been a cause of concern for some years now according to city officials who have fielded dozens of complaints about the rough crossing.

“We get a lot of calls and we turn them into CSX,” said Mary Grubert, clerk for the city of Marietta.

Groleau said all complaint calls are logged through the company’s “Tell CSX” system and the company’s engineering department follows up and inspects complaint areas.

She would not comment as to whether the company has specifically logged any complaints about the Fort Harmar Drive crossing.

Grize said worries that as long as the crossing goes unrepaired, it creates an accident risk.

“People are slowing down to go across them because they cause so much of a rumble. That’s my fear is that somebody is going to slow down to a near stop and somebody coming up on them isn’t going to see them. There’s going to be a major accident at that crossing,” she said.