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City to take on railroad over crossing repairs

By JOHN WALKER - jwalker@shvelbynews.com

Shelbyville Mayor Tom DeBaun says it’s time for a showdown.

The mayor plans to send an ultimatum to CSX Transportation over the state of railroad crossings in the city.

A CSX rail line runs diagonally through the city, from McKay Road on the southeast side to the Northridge Industrial Park on the northwest side of town.

At the pre-meeting of the Board of Works on Tuesday morning, DeBaun directed the city’s attorney, Trent Meltzer, Jennifer Jones, street commissioner, and engineer Matt House to prepare a letter to CSX including a list of the problem crossing sites.

“All of them,” the mayor said.

Both Jones and House said they’ve tried previously to communicate with the railroad company about the issue but had no luck.

“I sent them a letter in October,” House said, both to the railroad’s local engineer and the main office. 

CSX is headquartered in Jacksonville, Florida. In January, the company reported its 2017 full-year adjusted operating income was $3.9 billion, according to the CSX website.

The ultimatum DeBaun plans to issue would give CSX 30 days to take action to repair the crossing locations.

“What happens after 30 days?” asked Board of Works member Bob Williams.

The city will repair the crossings and add the cost to the railroad company’s tax bill, DeBaun replied.

Staff members are to have a list of the problem crossings and the legal notice prepared by next Tuesday’s board meeting, the mayor said.

In other matters, the owner of Jackson Street Pizzeria Ristorante, 134 E. Jackson St., asked the board to do something to improve parking and traffic near his business.

Keith Kocher told the Board of Works during its pre-meeting that he’s ready to open a buffet at the site but parking on Jackson Street is a problem. 

Traffic from the Bank One drive-through next door, a handicapped space and lack of designated parking spaces are issues, he said.

Kocher wants the city to designate parking spaces on the block and put up two-hour parking limit signs. 

The Board of Works took no formal action on the request.