Some months ago, several area residents were alerted that CSX railroads was considering their crossings for closure.
Published 7:39 am Monday, July 21, 2003
Most were notified by signs posted at the crossing in question and later by follow up letters.
In Escambia County, 12 crossings are being considered for closure, four in the Atmore vicinity.
There were several reasons that the rail line was looking at these particular crossings.
Usage, need, alternatives and individual circumstances all go into the mix when considering changing crossings, according to Dan Murphy, director of corporate communications for CSX.
Cost of maintaining the crossings was given as part of the reasoning behind looking at the four crossings.
Murphy said it costs about $45 per foot per year to maintain a crossing, and the average private crossing – one to a home or farm – is about 10-12 feet wide.
Property owners are being quizzed about pre-existing agreements as to who is responsible for maintaining the crossings.
"A sign means that we want to talk to you about your crossing, is it being used, if there are alternatives, if it is still needed," Murphy said.
He also said CSX will work with landowners in determining the cost of maintenance and who must bear those costs, which may vary widely.
One landowner who preferred not to be named said he was told that the cost of maintenance was not the main consideration.
Instead, it is the liability that crossings represent and the cost of lawsuits that the company may face when someone is killed or injured at a crossing. Most private crossings do not have automatic crossing arms that protect automobiles on public roadway crossings.
Murphy acknowledged that accidents are a consideration.
" For safety reasons, CSX endeavors to close any crossing it can, on a case-by-case basis," he said. "Fewer crossings provide fewer opportunities for accidents."