Elyria concerned about railroad bridge safety

Posted at 9:25 PM, May 24, 2016
and last updated 2016-05-24 23:06:49-04

Elyria leaders are concerned about the safety at 6 railroad bridges owned and operated by Norfolk Southern Railroad.

The bridges span West, Washington, East, Chestnut and Cedar Avenue.  City leaders report the rusty structures are plagued by crumbling concrete, water leaks, uneven sidewalks, and falling debris and sludge.

One of the bridges is located next to the Elyria municipal court, more that 100 court employees and visitors are required to walk under the span on any given workday.

However the city believes the bridge is so potentially hazardous, they've instructed employees not to park at the city court parking lot, because they don't want anyone walking under the bridge.

Elyria Municipal Judge Gary C. Bennett said employees are now parking at a lot owned by First Merit Bank down the street.

"We're concerned about falling debris, and the sludge splashing onto the sidewalk," said Bennett.

"The sludge has ruined employees clothing, and some staff members have slipped and injured themselves on the slick pavement under the railroad bridge."

Bennett and Elyria's Safety Director told they have been in contact with Norfolk Southern for more than two years about the crumbling bridges, but so far there has been no real action.

Norfolk and Southern responded to our story and explained it takes bridge safety very seriously, and said it would continue to try and work with Elyria leaders to take care of on-going safety concerns.

However Bennett said he remains skeptical, and explained the city has seen no real progress for years.

"If I could issue a court order closing the bridge due to safety concerns I would do it if I thought it would help," said Bennett.  "We're just hoping the railroad will make some repairs before someone is seriously hurt."