Several residents in the Whiteside community of Marion County found themselves on the wrong side of the tracks on Thursday afternoon — that is, the wrong side of the tracks if you want to leave home or need to get back to your home from elsewhere.
Residents on Pulltight Road along Running Water Creek were surprised to find a “Road Closed” sign as they tried to leave their neighborhood blocking their only way in or out of the one access road neighborhood as CSX railroad crews were working on upgrades to the tracks that cross their road.
One of the twelve or so residents affected, Cristy Phillips, contacted MarionCountyMessenger.com about the incident. She says that for her and her neighbors it’s not only this incident but ongoing problems with trains blocking their road.
One resident, Karen Gore, said that in her many years of living in the neighborhood this isn’t the first time the railroad has caused an inconvenience or blocked-off their neighborhood, sometimes as frequent as two or three times per week. She says typically the railroad will give the residents advance notice for any lengthy closure of the road so they have time to get their vehicles out ahead of time.
We contacted officials with CSX for a statement and they tell us that crews are performing upgrades to the heavily-used tracks that cross Pulltight Road and it will result in a “smoother and safer ride for motorists in the community.”
Gore took to her Facebook saying she did receive a letter about a month ago from CSX but hasn’t heard anything since that time and no further notice or warning was given.
“No one came to the house to warn us. [They] tore our crossing out without letting us know so we could get out cars out. We are stranded. No other way out. They said will be two or three days,” she said.
CSX officials tell us that warning letters were sent out to property owners more than a month in advance through direct letters.
Phillips says they received a letter in the last week of January (pictured right). “It was left on the truck windshield. No further notice was given. I contacted Ryan Guston who is the CSX public affairs liaison on several occasions to inquire as to an exact date and have received no response. I even contacted him last week as the workers made their way down the tracks to our area and got no response.” Phillips said.
“My bigger issue is the fact that they stop trains and pull the crew off and leave an empty train sitting there for hours on end with no regard,” citing many times in the past where this has occurred where’s she’s contacted CSX dispatch only to be told the train is not stopped and no further information was available — even stranding her daughter on the other side of the tracks after getting off the school bus in the afternoon with no way to safely go across and get her.
Another resident who owns about 100-acres of land and runs a campground and off-roading business there says the constant closures is hurting their business by keeping customers away.
Another concern the residents have is the results of the work to their crossing
“They dumped a ton of rock on the steepest part of the hill so that you have no traction once your front wheels hit that soft stuff,” Phillips said. “I don’t think a car would make it.”
As seen in the picture here, loose gravel and dirt now cover the track area and the steep heel that approaches the tracks from the main highway.
Residents hope to get a better explanation from representatives with CSX regarding this latest incident and others in hopes to resolve these ongoing problems.
Our news team here reached out again to CSX today for more details and to see if we could get answers for these residents, but they have not returned our phone calls or emails yet regarding their plans to give better warning to those on the road or for comments on previous incidents and what residents say is the mess they left behind.
Stay with MarionCountyMessenger.com for more on this story.