Railroad signals not part of change

Don’t expect additional railroad crossing signals, such as flashing lights or cross arms, to be installed along a local railroad line, even if it gets approval for more and faster trains.

Local officials asked for more warning signs and signals at railroad crossings if additional trains are approved to use the Louisville and Indiana Railroad tracks, which run north-south through Johnson County between U.S. 31 and Interstate 65. But railroad officials said adding more signals isn’t their responsibility, and

local officials didn’t show they were needed.

CSX Transportation, if allowed by the Federal Surface Transportation Board, wants to have an additional 12 trains using the Louisville and Indiana Railroad line per day, with trains traveling up to

49 mph compared with the current speed of 15 mph.

Last week, a final report on the environmental impacts of the request, including noise and traffic, was finalized by the Office of Environmental Analysis. The Federal Surface Transportation Board will use that report to decide if CSX Transportation can use the Louisville and Indiana Railroad.

As part of that report, local officials and residents wrote letters about their concerns with the project. Greenwood Mayor Mark Myers and Franklin Mayor Joe McGuinness both asked for the railroad to put up more warning signals at the 17 crossings in their cities, in addition to finding ways to reduce noise from the extra trains. Johnson County Highway Director Luke Mastin and Edinburgh Utilities Director John Drybread also sent in letters raising concerns about potential traffic congestion at the crossings.

The railroad company and CSX Transportation said they would create quiet zones and conduct meetings to hear residents’ concerns but will not install more flashing lights, automatic

cross arms or additional signs at local crossings.

“I don’t know where we’re going to go from here,” McGuinness said. “I fully anticipate having a conversation with Greenwood, Bargersville and some of the other local units and see if we can team up and do something.”

Of 11 railroad crossings in Franklin, only two have automatic cross arms at Commerce Drive and East Jefferson Street.

Three crossings have only railroad crossing signs in place — Earlywood Road, Yandes Street and Graham Road.

If the proposal is approved, more trains will be on the tracks daily. McGuinness said he is concerned about the risk of an accident if cross arms are not added at the other crossings.

Myers also wrote about his

concerns with the lack of

warning signals at crossings in Greenwood, saying that none of the seven crossings has automatic cross arms.

Whether crossing signals, cross arms, stop signs or flashing lights are installed is decided by the Indiana State Department of Transportation, not the railroad, the report said.

“I think their comment that

INDOT controls where their signals and warning signs are installed, I think that’s a bit of a cop-out,” Greenwood city engineer Mark Richards said. “I think that those are certainly warranted, especially with the increased traffic that’s proposed on the line.”

Local governments can apply for a joint grant with the railroad for funding to install signs, cross arms and flashing lights at crossings, Franklin city engineer Travis Underhill said.

The city has coordinated

with the railroad in the past for previous city construction projects, he said.

The railroad company will work with the local governments on establishing a quiet zone, as well as naming a community liaison between the residents and the railroad. No meetings have been set, nor has the railroad company said when it will name a liaison to hear community concerns.