Residents in Ashtabula County still being held up by stopping trains

SAYBROOK, Ohio - We first reported last December that trains are blocking railroad crossings in Ashtabula County, leaving residents and leaders beyond frustrated.

A year later and they say the problem has continued.

"It's terrible, man," said Norman Eisengert, a Saybrook resident who says he’s constantly stuck waiting for long periods of time.

School buses and workers get caught up on either side of the tracks where the train will just stop for minutes or sometimes hours on end.

It’s gotten so bad that one local business owner right down the road said it's costing him money and time.

“We lose productivity, they lose hours of pay," said Frank Cicogna, President and CEO of Cicogna Electrical and Sign Company, directly down the road from the train intersection at Gerald and North Bend.

When the train comes at the intersection during the morning rush, there's no telling how long neighbors will wait.

“It could be five minutes to 2 hours it could be blocked," said Bob Brobst, a trustee for Saybrook Township.

Totaling that time up throughout the course of a year, Cicogna says it's starting to add up.

“It's just chaos for 20-40 minutes 3 or 4 times a week,” he said. “If they show up 35 minutes average than later than usual, we lose that much period, time of production."

Meanwhile, day in and day out, when the gates go down, neighbors put the car in park and they wait.

“Every time I come here, there's a train here," said Eisengert.

What Township Trustees know now that they didn’t know a year ago, was the CSX trains are stopping at the depot there in order to exchange or add on freight.

Since the train is federally-operated, the trustees have reached out to Congressman Dave Joyce for help, and yet nothing's changed.

"Well CSX has to make the changes, I don't have an ability to make changes to their operations," said Congressman Joyce.

Though he said they're working with CSX to figure out a solution if there is one.

“We could try to put in legislation, but the only real cure would be obviously bridging over those roads," he said.

Something else residents are upset about is the signal coming down when there is no train in sight. It's causing backups, confusion and could also be potentially dangerous as residents have been getting out of their cars to check for trains or just drive through the tracks anyway.

News 5 reached out to CSX for an interview; instead, they sent this statement:

"CSX is committed to being a good neighbor and we work hard to minimize the impact of our operations. In listening to the concerns of neighbors immediately south of CSX’s rail yard in Ashtabula County, OH, CSX made some adjustments to our operations to reduce blocked crossings, which typically are the result of federally mandated safety inspections. Because safety is our highest priority, CSX also successfully implemented a proactive communication plan with local first responders to ensure they can find the fastest route to emergency calls. While we continue working on this issue, we encourage motorists to use one of several alternate access roads just minutes away from this area."

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