Crosby: The railroad got the message
By BEcky Brooks
City officials have received confirmation that Norfolk Southern has received the city’s letter requesting that the Center Street crossing be repaired and reopened.
“All we got back from them was from their legal counsel that we received the letter,” commented Safety Service Director Jeffrey Crosby on Wednesday.
Crosby added that Norfolk Southern Railroad Co. did note that the same offer was still available to the city. He added the letter added that railroad officials were disappointed in the city’s decsion.
The city now is awaiting the railroad to begin renovation of the Center Street crossing, which was closed nearly a year ago when Norfolk Southern removed a set of rails from that location and streamlined the tracks into the yard north of the city.
Crosby said the agreement that the city has with Norfolk Southern — which allowed Center Street to remain closed this long — requires that the crossing be reopened in a reasonable amount of time once notice is given of negotiations ending.
The safety-service director commented that the city’s view of a reasonable amount of time is 60 to 90 days from the city’s notice, which was mailed out last month to the railroad.
“I would expect within the next 30 days they will start work,” he commented. “I’m really not worried they won’t.”
At the end of last year, Norfolk Southern initially proposed closing five grade crossings in Bellevue and the Ohio Rail Development Commission proposed making neraly $200,000 in funds available to the city for each grade crossing that the city would agree to close. Center Street remained closed as the city and railroad continued to negotiate. The railroad company made other proposals to the city thoughout this year — with nearly all of them keeping Center Street closed permanently.
In a June, Mayor Donald Berkey sent a letter to Charles Moorman, CEO of Norfolk Southern, proposing the railroad annex its rail yard north of town into the city limits and then the city would agree to close both the Center and East street crossings.
When the city received no reply a month later, the city sent a letter to the railroad informing Norfolk Southern that Bellevue wanted Center Street reopened.