City Council heard from resident Mollie Schmotzer during its Jan. 23 meeting. Schmotzer asked if the city had any solutions to the recent influx of blocked railroad crossings. She noted that on January 14 and 16, there was a stopped train at the Portland Way South crossing for at least 90 minutes on each occurrence. She tried contacting CSX but had not received a response.
City officials explained it is a federal issue. In the past, many Ohio municipalities fined railroads which blocked crossings longer than 10 minutes under state law. However, in the April 2017 case CSX Transportation v. Williams, the court ruled the railroads have jurisdiction at road crossings under the Interstate Commerce Commission Termination Act, setting a precedent that takes away municipalities’ leverage to keep crossings clear.
Galion has experienced significantly more stopped trains in the past few months, prompting city officials and the police and fire chiefs to meet with US Representative Jim Jordan in December about the issue and its impact to safety forces.
Mayor Tom O’Leary recommended that Schmotzer and any citizens who are concerned about the issue contact Galion’s representatives in Federal government:
202-225-2676 (Washington DC office)
419-663-1426 (Bucyrus office)
202-224-3353 (Washington DC office)
614-469-6774 (Columbus office)
202-224-2315 (Washington DC)
Citizens may also contact the Transportation Division of PUCO, and the Ohio Rail Development Commission. Several council members encouraged citizens to make phone calls and send emails to these legislators and state agencies. “We feel your pain,” Councilman Tom Fellner said.
In terms of why trains stop in Galion, there are often two reasons. CSX swaps train crews near Middletown Road, which blocks crossings from Knorr Road and continuing south. In addition, the railroad tracks merge into one line between Crestline and Shelby, creating a bottleneck that causes northbound trains to back up. South of Galion on Keiffer Roads, the tracks also merge into one, creating a bottleneck for south or westbound trains.
In legislation, Resolution 2018-3 approved two then and now certificates: $3,545 to Columbia Gas for utilities at the Water Treatment Plant, and $8,469 to Medical Mutual for medical claims. Council passed this item as a final reading.
Following regular business, council was presented with information pertaining to Ohio Sunshine Law, the legislative process, public records, and reading financial reports.