After almost two years of strong disagreement with CSX Railroad officials and the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO), Morrow County Commissioners approved the closing of the railroad crossing on Blooming Grove/New Winchester Road in Washington Township.
At their Feb. 1 meeting, Commissioner Tom Whiston was asked if the Commissioners had any other alternative other than closing the crossing. Whiston said they had no other choice after a CSX attorney said they would go to court if Morrow County didn’t comply with the PUCO order to close the crossing.
The Public Utilities Commission of Ohio gave the order to close the crossing on Blooming grove/New Winchester Rd. (also known as Co. Rd. 8 or County Line Rd.) on Nov. 23, 2015.
Before approving the order and ordinance from the Ohio Public Utilities Commission, the commissioners noted at their monthly meeting that they strongly disagreed with the finding of the commission.
“We, the Morrow County Commissioners believe that the orders of the Public Utilities Commission place in jeopardy the safety of our residents. The closure of this roadway will hamper response times for emergency vehicles. There are many railroad crossings in Morrow County that on multiple occasions have caused injury or death to our citizens. Yet these dangerous crossings remain open and are of no concern to the CSX Railroad,” Commissioners said in a written statement.
“We have concluded from all the available evidence that the sole purpose for closing this crossing is not for safety, but to provide the CSX Railroad a place to park their trains,” Commissioners concluded. “In spite of our objections, we have no choice but to comply with the orders of the Public Utilities Commission.”
The next step for the county has already taken place with a sign posting on the road that the crossing will be closed Feb. 12. Morrow County will be responsible to erect barricades to prevent the use of the crossing and also for the expense of adding a cul-de-sac where the road dead ends at the tracks.
The final decision from the commissioners comes after almost two years of filing objections to the closing of the crossing. On March 7, 2014, the CSX Railroad filed a petition with the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio to close the Blooming grove/New Winchester Road crossing.
On April 30, 2014, and May 2, 2014, both Morrow County and Crawford County filed objections to the CSX petition. An evidentiary hearing was held at the Offices of the Ohio Public Utilities Commission on March 3, 2015. On Nov. 23, 2015 the Public Utilities found there is not a demonstrable need for the Blooming grove New Winchester Crossing to exist.
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