Ken Gilsdorf, community affairs and safety representative for CSX, submitted the offer last week in a letter to the trustees.
“CSX Transportation would like to make a cash incentive offer to permanently close Walbridge Road and turn it into a private road owned by CSX Transportation,” the letter says.
Conditions of the closure are:
• CSX will place a barricade across the private grade crossing at its own expense and motor vehicles will not be permitted to use it.
• CSX will allow fire, police, and emergency medical service vehicles to use the private crossing in an emergency when “practicable,” the letter says. “This may not be feasible in an emergency situation if our train crews cannot clear up the grade crossing in a reasonable time.”
• CSX will remove public crossing warning devices and replace them with private warning devices at its expense.
• Road closed signs will be placed on both sides of the street.
Gilsdorf attended a meeting of the trustees in September to inform them the rail company was intending to seek closure of the crossing.
His letter says the daily count of motor vehicles at the crossing is only 28, according to an inventory in 2007 by the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio, and there is a crossing motorists can use 1 ½ miles to the south where State Route 795 crosses CSX tracks.
According to Gilsdorf, train crews have reported many near misses involving trains and motorists at the site.
“The benefits of a grade crossing closure for a community are many: increased safety for area residents, elimination of car-train crashes, elimination of cut-through traffic, reduction of road maintenance costs, and reduction of noise pollution due to no need for train horns or ringing bells,” he writes.
Richard Welling, a township trustee, said the offer by CSX is one option.
If the trustees decide to not vacate the township’s portion of the road, CSX could still petition the PUCO to have the crossing closed, he said.
The trustees have not received input from the public on the proposal but the union representing CSX workers has stated its opposition to the closing, saying it would create a safety hazard.
Welling said the trustees will hold public hearings on the proposed closing.
A major business in the township, Jones-Hamilton Co., is located east of the crossing on Tracy Road.