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This railroad project might have been a boondoggle

Posted 10/15/13

It could have been an incredible federal boondoggle, but thanks to an inspection by the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation, thousands of federal dollars will not be spent on warning devices – probably a gate and flashing lights – at the …

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This railroad project might have been a boondoggle


The feds believed that 44 trains used the crossing – where three sets of tracks cross Industrial and Race streets – on a daily basis. Well, that figure was a little high.

In reality, only one Norfolk Southern freight train uses the crossing about once every few months, according to Greg Penny, a PennDOT spokesman.

PennDOT learned the truth during an inspection of the crossing. The feds’ numbers were way off. How the mistake was made, no one knew, or would say. But the inspection left no doubt that the Highspire crossing didn't warrant the feds' attention more than other truly dangerous crossings.

“Using the revised numbers, the crossing ranks very low on the list for safety improvements’’ in reality, Penny said.

Though the crossing is in need of some repair – PennDOT has notified Norfolk Southern – it would be a waste to throw buckets of money from the Federal Rail Safety Program at it for the little train traffic it sees.

Instead, the money that was earmarked for the crossing will be made available for a more dangerous crossing in Reed Twp., Penny said.

Any unguarded railroad crossing has the potential to be dangerous. And Pennsylvania, the nation’s leader with 58 operating railroads, has a number of them.

Certainly there were many other crossings, such as the one in Reed, that are busier, and more worthy, of the federal funds.

Good call, PennDOT.


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