Tracks to nowhere give drivers a headache


June 24, 2008|By Liz F. Kay

The problem: Unused railroad tracks crossing Reisterstown Road in Owings Mills have led to deterioration of the road surface, slowing down traffic.

The backstory: Two readers contacted Watchdog about a situation on Reisterstown Road in Owings Mills.

Yellow-and-black signs alert drivers to a railroad crossing and a dip in the road just north of the intersection with Owings Mills Boulevard, near Garrison Forest Plaza shopping center.

"It is one terrible bump," said Philip Schindler of Reisterstown, who contacted Watchdog about the problem. "You can actually hit your head on the roof of the car."

The problem is worse in the passing lane than in the right lane. "Toward the middle of the street, you can get a pretty good jolt," Schindler said.

He's confused, however, because the tracks remain in place even though he knows "no train is going to go by."

Steve Wilkerson, in an e-mail, wrote that it's clear that no trains use the tracks because they're broken on both sides of Reisterstown Road.

"It's like the tracks are only good on the road," he said. "You can tell just based on the tracks that it hasn't been used in years."

Reisterstown Road is a state road, but the tracks belong to CSX Transportation Inc.

"We can't touch it, because we don't own them. We can't do the maintenance on them," said David Buck, a spokesman for the State Highway Administration.

"Anytime you have anything that crosses through the road surface itself, it's more prone to additional wear and tear around it," Buck said.

CSX representatives met with SHA officials this month about removing the rails during one or two weekends in July, said company spokesman Robert Sullivan.

The work would be done at night, between about 7 p.m. and 5 a.m., he said.

The SHA would help with traffic flow for repairs such as these and is working with the company to approve a date and schedule for the work, Buck said.

"Our responsibility is to make the traffic get through as safely as we can," he said.

Who can fix this: CSX spokesman Sullivan declined to provide the name of a supervisor to contact about complaints but said people can call 877-835-5279.


Watchdog spy Peg Massey tipped us off to more positive change at the Curran Memorial clock tower on York Road at Woodbourne Avenue. The power will be restored to the clock and bells in time for its dedication July 9, wrote Laura Thul Penza, the president of the Govanstowne Business Association, in an e-mail. As of last week, the group still needed to raise $9,000 toward the $85,000 cost of the project.

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