Sunday, December 03, 2000

Boehner prods CSX to repair crossings

Railroad had reneged on Hamilton agreement

By Earnest Winston
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        HAMILTON — A nudge from U.S. Rep. John Boehner has prompted CSX Corp. to start repairing several damaged railroad crossings even though CSX had refused to make the repairs because of a worker shortage.

        City Manager Steve Sorrell and Mayor Adolf Olivas contacted the Ohio Republican's Washington office recently after CSX reneged on an agreement to fix about 10 crossings by the end of the year.

        “We called (CSX) ... and they recommitted that they would, in fact, complete the project of repairing and rebuilding all of the railroad tracks in question,” said press secretary Mike Sommers. “It's just going to take a little bit longer.”

        That's because CSX's financial troubles forced the railroad to make severe cuts to their regional work force, Mr. Sommers said.

        “Instead of a regional gang serving the city of Hamilton, they'll have a local gang, which is probably a group of about five to eight men with only one piece of heavy equipment,” he said.

        Gary Wollenhaupt of CSX said the railroad has begun some of the repairs. CSX has asked Hamilton officials to prioritize the worst railroad crossings. Still, he said he's not sure how many crossings will be repaired by the end of the year. He expects the railroad to complete all repairs by early 2001.

        Mr. Sorrell fears if CSX prolongs the repairs it could have difficulty obtaining “hot mix” asphalt, which is used to make permanent repairs.

        “I think they have to hurry to accomplish these repairs,” Mr. Sorrell said.


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