PRINCETON — Six county roads were blocked by a westbound coal train on the Norfolk Southern tracks for two hours May 2, and Gibson County resident Jim Tate told Gibson County Commissioners he needs them to join him in pressuring the railroad to keep the crossings open.
Tate, who lives near the County Road 150 East crossing that the railroad petitioned to have closed, has monitored blocked crossings for a year or more. He said that on May 2, he drove to six different county roads starting at the Ohio Street crossing and going east to County Road 350 East ("Super Slab") and saw them all blocked, for more than two hours May 2.
He told commissioners Tuesday night that the problem is particularly dangerous for CR350E, a north-south artery from Ind. 168 to Ind. 64.
"Needless to say, that's not acceptable," Board of Commissioners President Alan Douglas agreed.
Tate said he saw some improvement in the problem of trains blocking crossings for hours and even days when he made contact with a railroad superintendent, but that person is no longer with the company, and the situation is worse again. He said he called the railroad's ethics compliance division to file a complaint, and encouraged commissioners to pressure the railroad not to block crossings for extended periods of time.
In other business at Tuesday night's session, commissioners voted 3-0 to allow Gibson County Highway Superintendent Chuck Lewis to request funding from the Gibson County Council for a fleet tracking system.
Lewis said the county ambulance service and the city of Princeton use the service offered through Verizon. Modules installed on county-owned vehicles could track the location, speed of travel, service records, engine diagnostic codes and other data for each vehicle.
Some highway department employees work in remote areas, and Lewis said the module would be a "way of knowing they made it home safely."
The initial cost would involve $4,000 to purchase modules for 30 vehicles plus about $7,000 to $7,500 per year ($20 per vehicle) for the tracking service.