By Scott Bolthouse
A partnership between Huron Township and the City of Romulus could potentially bring some much needed relief to the constant blocking of railroad crossings in both communities, officials say.
The blocked crossings, which are an obvious safety hazard for residents and first responders in both communities, have been an ongoing issue in the area for several years.
A resolution passed during a May 2 Romulus City Council meeting and dubbed the “Pennsylvania Road Project” says that “a bridge at the Pennsylvania Road Railroad crossing is needed to ensure public safety vehicles are able to respond in a timely fashion to emergencies in both Huron Township and the City of Romulus.”
Pennsylvania Road acts as a border between the two communities.
According to the resolution, the project — which was first named in 1999 by the Romulus Council — requested back then that the city administration send a communication to CSX railroad regarding the dangers of blocking Eureka and Pennsylvania Roads at the railroad crossings for a long period of time.
The resolution said that a copy of that same communication was also sent to state and federal officials and that a second similar request was sent to CSX Railroad in March 2000.
The current resolution was forwarded to officials in Huron Township, the Wayne County Commissioner, and state and federal officials.
“The City of Romulus elected officials, on behalf of the citizens of this community, do request that the ‘Pennsylvania Rd. Project’ be brought to the forefront immediately to protect the lives and homes in this area,” the resolution said.
Officials in both communities believe that a grade separation, which is a formal word for a bridge or underpass, could cost well over $30 million to build.
The cost of the project will hopefully be shared by both communities, and it is unclear whether funding from the state and federal government will be available to help with the burden.
Until then, local government hands are tied and railroad companies cannot be fined due to the fact that it is deemed interstate commerce, which is regulated within a state only by the Federal Government, according to Constitutional powers.
The location of the track in New Boston is a loading zone for the auto industry’s shipping of new vehicles, causing the crossings to be blocked for several minutes and leaving travelers without an option to get in or out of the community.