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Township contesting repairs to rail crossing

By Scott Rawdon

HEBRON – Who’s responsible for maintaining a Union Township railroad crossing remains a mystery.

Union Township Trustee Jack Justice said Monday night that the Licking County engineer’s office will be meeting with CSX Railroad representatives to discuss maintenance of the railroad crossing on Thornwood Drive. Trustees say the berm on the crossing’s steep sides are collapsing and could be a safety hazard, but it’s unclear if the township or the railroad is responsible for repairs.

Justice said he spoke with Crystal Bennett, Licking County assistant prosecutor, but he thought she was under the impression that the pavement is sagging at the railway, not the berm.

Trustees believe the CSX Railway should be responsible for at least some of the paving and berm work, which could cost up to $25,000. Trustee President John Slater said previously that a railway representative said the repairs are the township’s responsibility because the railroad was there before Thornwood Drive.

Trustees believe it’s more likely Thornwood preceded the railway. Justice said the roadwork around the Thornwood crossing was completed using railroad ties as a base. He believes the repairs are the railroad’s responsibility.

Slater said the road is becoming a safety hazard as cars slip over the eroding berms when crossing. Justice said the township may need to put up barricades along the berms to stop that from happening. Motorists risk hitting the barricades, which might not be visible from the other side of the steep crossing; trustees described the crossing as a “ski jump.”

In other township news:

• The saga behind Union Township’s attempt to reach a contract agreement with the Hebron Fire Department continues. Slater said Monday that the contract is still being “worked on,” and no agreement was reached as of Monday.

Trustees remain uncomfortable with Hebron’s proposed 10 percent administrative fee to process special reports and monthly payments for EMS fees generated in the township. Justice said previously that a ten percent fee for writing a check each month “is a damn good stiff.”

Hebron Mayor Clifford Mason is anxious for a contract to be signed. He hopes to meet with the trustees early next week. “I think it’s time to get serious and sign a contract,” said Mason Wednesday. “The residents of Union Township deserve a contract.” He said it’s time for the trustees and the village to move forward and resolve the situation.

• The trustees had little to say during a hearing Monday night on proposed changes to the township’s zoning resolution. There were no public comment sduring the hearing and all three trustees approved the changes. Justice said the changes are only minor ones to align the zoning regulations with the law, but don’t significantly change the regulations themselves.

• Slater said rumors that the township owns a fire truck parked at the US 40 and Ohio 37 intersection are untrue. He said a private citizen owns the truck and only parks it there.

• Union Township Street Superintendent Ron Braden doesn’t plan to retire until August 2010, but Slater said there are already plenty of people who want his job. The trustees haven’t advertised the position yet and likely won’t until they decide the new superintendent’s duties; the position may differ after Braden retires. “We’re not really sure at this point,” said Slater.

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