Rep. Mitchell, Sen. Blevins, Councilman Reda’s Office and I met with 2 representatives from CSX about the trains blocking the crossings in the 19th District (Centerville Road, Newport Gap Pike, and Stanton Road). It has been reported that the trains have blocked crossings for over two hours. The increase in train traffic has increased significantly since the yard by the GM plant was reactivated in June. It is reported that four trains use these tracks daily. One of the reasons why the trains are blocking the crossings is inside the yard the personnel on the train have to get off of the train and manually switch the tracks in order to offload the train cars. This process can take a while.
One solution that DelDot has been working on is an Advanced Warning Signal system. This system will warn drivers that a train is at the railroad crossing and for drivers to take another route. The issue with this system, DelDot has not been able to get CSX to sign off on this system. CSX stated at the meeting they would try to get the proper folks from CSX to sign-off on the Advanced Warning Signal so it can be turned on.
We have requested from CSX to shorten the amount of train cars they carry at one time this could eliminate the blocking of all three crossings at the same time. We have requested that they try not to run trains during peak driving times.
There are Delaware laws in place where the state can fine the train companies if they block the tracks for more than 10 minutes, there is no way to enforce those laws. The railroad have their own set of regulations in place that the federal government recognizes.
DelDot had a project scheduled which would require the closing of the bridge (by DelCastle High School) on Newport Road in the spring. I asked DelDot to see if that work can be done in the summer when DelCastle High School is closed. Newport Road is really the only way to get around the trains when they are blocking all three railroad crossings.