The closure of four railroad crossings in Monroe and South Middleton townships raised concerns of township officials and residents who said they were never notified of the impending work.
Work on Norfolk Southern railroad crossings began Sunday, but on Tuesday, four crossings at Mountain Road, Leidigh Drive, Creek Road and Tanger Road were closed for repairs, almost stranding those who live in White Rock Acres in Monroe Township.
With four crossings closed, those who live in the development had only one way out with a 4- to 5-mile detour, and others who farm in the area likewise could only take the detour following Leidigh Drive to Mountain Road to Petersburg Road up to Park Drive in South Middleton Township.
It was doubly a concern for some officials who say they were not notified of the impending work and closures.
South Middleton Township Supervisor Tom Faley said emergency services were not told about the closures, raising concerns about the extra time it would take to respond to calls in affected areas.
“I’m totally shocked with the way this has been handled,” Faley said, adding that he received multiple calls from residents Tuesday regarding the closures. “I am stunned that any responsible corporation would let this happen, due to safety concerns.”
Faley said he plans on bringing up the issue at the South Middleton meeting Thursday night.
Norfolk Southern said they believed township and school officials were made aware of the closures.
“Our understanding is that local government agencies, including emergency services and schools, were notified in advance of this work by a contract company that coordinates crossing closures and street detours on behalf of Norfolk Southern,” said Jon Glass, manager of public relations for Norfolk Southern. “This work was planned to provide motorists with alternate routes around closed crossings.
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“Norfolk Southern apologizes to residents for any inconveniences during these temporary crossing closures,” he said.
Glass said the work is part of a scheduled dual rail replacement project along about 7 miles of track on the Lurgan Branch mainline between Boiling Springs and Brandtsville.
“The rail replacement project carries long-term benefits for Norfolk Southern and for the communities,” he said. “The new steel rail being installed is heavier and stronger than the 1970s-era rail it is replacing. This will enhance the safety and efficiency of rail operations and should result in fewer crossing closures over time due to rail issues. In addition, after the crossings are repaved and reopened, motorists will have a smoother ride across them.”
Glass said crews have been working diligently at the crossings.
“The Norfolk Southern employees doing the rail replacement are members of a dual rail gang,” he said. “This gang has the unique capability to remove and install both rails on the track simultaneously. The typical rail gang replaces one rail at a time.”
Norfolk Southern expects to repave and reopen the crossings at Mountain and Tanger roads Wednesday, with the aim to open four other crossings in Boiling Springs by close of business Thursday. Glass said that this could change if weather causes delays.
South Middleton and Monroe townships posted information they received from the railroad on their respective websites.
The Creek Road crossing is expected to open while the Leidigh Drive crossing is being completed, but Monroe Township said the crossing at Creek Road will be “very rough.” Pavement near the crossings have been stripped.
The township added that there will be a few hours on Thursday where both Leidigh Drive and Creek Road crossings will be closed. During that time, the Mountain Road closing should be open and available as an alternative route.