Trains cause headaches for emergency responders in Meyersdale

August 15, 2018 GMT

The main discussion at the Meyersdale Borough Council meeting Tuesday centered on the ongoing issue of trains preventing traffic from crossing Meyers Avenue for prolonged periods of time.

As a result, there’s a delayed emergency response for people who live on the other side of the tracks.

“God forbid there’s a fire on the right side of Meyers crossing,” council President Jeff Irwin said. The meeting featured presentations from Thursa Trent Crouse, an official from state Rep. Matt Dowling’s office, and Kevin Broadwater, Meyersdale Borough’s emergency management coordinator. A public meeting on the issue was held on Thursday, and the council further discussed it in official session.

Numerous residents throughout the years have come to the council about the inaccessibility of the other side of the road, according to a summary of that meeting. Residents sent letters to CSX, the company that controls the train schedule throughout Meyersdale.

Crouse said the borough could fine the train company for blocking road access if it wanted to, but enforcement of the fine would have to come from the federal government. She added that many municipalities that have had the same problem have had legal troubles in getting the government to enforce such fines. “We could cite them,” Crouse said. “But it would not be enforced.”

Broadwater spoke later about potential solutions. He thinks there should be an emergency plan in place should a fire or medical responder or law enforcement need to cross the tracks when a train is there.

“To separate a train takes time. So on the ambulance side, they would have a better ease of access (than fire trucks),” he said. “On the fire side, when they need an assist, we’re called also. The plan we’re calling on is for the fire department and ambulance. In the short of it, we can get to them. But it’s delayed.”

An official with CSX had said the company would help fund the payment for a new road, according to borough officials. But it was revealed at last week’s meeting that it would cost $54,000 to buy the property at the end of Meyers Avenue that would need to be demolished in order to construct an access road. Until the road is constructed, there remains the issue of how to cross the tracks. Broadwater called for a plan to be created. The council agreed.

In other news, council member Mardiann Vincent said they are planning a bonfire and parade for kids during the homecoming ceremony on Sept. 27. The council also voted to promote Timmy Pritts to supervising lieutenant within the Meyersdale Borough Police Department. The next borough council meeting is set for 7 p.m. Sept. 11.