Slippage from CSX tracks causing road and drainage issues

MUSKINGUM TWP-A series of chronic landslips from the CSX Railroad along four miles of Muskingum River Road (Twp. 32) has been causing some road maintenance and drainage problems for Muskingum Township. But the township trustees’ hands are pretty much tied when it comes to fixing those problems because the work has to be done in the CSX right of way.

“Stones and soil placed along the railroad tracks is washing down and blocking up our drainage ditches which causes storm water to run across the roadway,” said Muskingum Township Trustee Gary Doan.

He said the storm runoff can also damage the chip and seal road surface that is maintained by the township.

“There are at least four slips occurring over a three to four mile segment of the road,” Doan said. “And last August there was one slip that literally blocked the road itself. We had to close the road while our workers removed the debris.”

In addition, storm water washing across the road freezes during winter weather creating hazardous driving conditions.

“Last winter a school bus became stuck on ice as it waited for a train at one of the crossings,” Doan said.

The slippage problem has existed for years.

Doan, who’s served as a trustee for the last seven years, said he’s contacted CSX about the slips and drain blockage in the past. He said the railroad company admits his name has been in their files related to those complaints since 2011.

He said CSX has made repairs to some areas where slippage has occurred, but more needs to be done to protect the roadway and drainage ditches.

On Thursday Doan brought the Washington County Commissioners up to date on the problem.

“But there’s not much we can do. Our hands are tied when it comes to working in the CSX right of way. If we repaired a drainage ditch on the right of way and then a train derailed at that location, we’d be on the hook,” Commission President Ron Feathers said Monday.

He said the location of many areas of Muskingum River Road, between the river and the railroad, has been an issue for some time, with landslips from the railroad, and periodic flooding from the river side of the road.

After speaking to the commissioners last week, Doan said he obtained a phone number from U.S. Congressman Bill Johnson’s local office that put him in contact with a representative at the CSX headquarters in Jacksonville, Fla.

“He said they didn’t know about the slips and asked me to send some photos and documentation showing the problem,” Doan said, adding that the CSX rep also assigned a case number to the project, which made him feel that the company is paying better attention to the issue.

Calvin Becker with the Washington County Engineer’s Office said the Muskingum Township road is a unique situation because it is parallel to the railroad.

“The county has no problems like that with our roadways. If we have any issues involving CSX it’s usually at railroad crossings,” he said. “But CSX is usually pretty responsive when we need them. Of course, like everyone else, they’re often overburdened with more rail work than manpower, so it may seem like it takes the company some time to do a repair.”

Becker said the answer to the slippage problem would likely be for the railroad to erect a barrier wall that would prevent the ballast placed along the tracks from falling onto the roadway and into the township drainage ditches.

A phone call and email to CSX about the slippage problem was not answered Monday.