ShareThis Page
Valley News Dispatch

Freeport pushing for train tunnel repairs

| Friday, Aug. 11, 2017, 3:03 p.m.
Freeport Mayor Jim Swartz  shows the amount of deterioration in one of the tunnels beneath the railroad tracks along Seventh Street and River Road, Tuesday, Aug. 8, 2017.
Jack Fordyce | Tribune-Review
Freeport Mayor Jim Swartz shows the amount of deterioration in one of the tunnels beneath the railroad tracks along Seventh Street and River Road, Tuesday, Aug. 8, 2017.
One of the support beams is nearly rusted through beneath the railroad tracks along Seventh Street and Riverside Drive in Freeport on Tuesday, Aug. 8, 2017.
Jack Fordyce | Tribune-Review
One of the support beams is nearly rusted through beneath the railroad tracks along Seventh Street and Riverside Drive in Freeport on Tuesday, Aug. 8, 2017.
Pieces of exposed rebar show the amount of deterioration in one of the tunnels beneath the railroad tracks along Seventh Street and River Road in Freeport on Tuesday, Aug. 8, 2017.
Jack Fordyce | Tribune-Review
Pieces of exposed rebar show the amount of deterioration in one of the tunnels beneath the railroad tracks along Seventh Street and River Road in Freeport on Tuesday, Aug. 8, 2017.
An exposed piece of rusted metal shows the amount of deterioration in one of the tunnels beneath the railroad tracks along Seventh Street and River Road in Freeport on Tuesday, Aug. 8, 2017.
Jack Fordyce | Tribune-Review
An exposed piece of rusted metal shows the amount of deterioration in one of the tunnels beneath the railroad tracks along Seventh Street and River Road in Freeport on Tuesday, Aug. 8, 2017.
Freeport Mayor Jim Swartz  shows the amount of deterioration in one of the tunnels beneath the railroad tracks along Seventh Street and River Road on Tuesday, Aug. 8, 2017.
Jack Fordyce | Tribune-Review
Freeport Mayor Jim Swartz shows the amount of deterioration in one of the tunnels beneath the railroad tracks along Seventh Street and River Road on Tuesday, Aug. 8, 2017.
Freeport Mayor Jim Swartz shows the amount of deterioration in one of the tunnels beneath the railroad tracks along Seventh Street and River Road on Tuesday, Aug. 8, 2017.
Jack Fordyce | Tribune-Review
Freeport Mayor Jim Swartz shows the amount of deterioration in one of the tunnels beneath the railroad tracks along Seventh Street and River Road on Tuesday, Aug. 8, 2017.

Freeport officials will seek a commitment from Norfolk Southern railroad to repair the deterioration of railroad tunnels in the borough.

At the request of Mayor Jim Swartz, council President Ricky Hastings and Borough Secretary Carol Crytzer will try to set up a meeting with railroad officials to discuss the problem.

The Norfolk Southern rail line runs parallel to the Allegheny River and Riverside Drive. The tunnels allow Second through Sixth streets to cross under the railroad's active freight line and intersect with Riverside Drive.

“They are just deteriorating to the point where they (Norfolk Southern) need to come up with a game plan on what they are going to do and give it to us,” Swartz said.

However, officials with Norfolk Southern say those tunnels are not scheduled for any rehabilitation.

“At this time, we have no planned work for the bridges,” said Susan Terpay, Norfolk Southern spokeswoman.

However, Terpay added, “Norfolk Southern will look into any questions the mayor has about the (tunnels).”

Terpay said that some parts of the tunnels — clearance signs, lighting, sidewalks and the streets below — are the responsibility of the borough to maintain, while the tunnels belong to the railroad.

According to Terpay, those tunnels are inspected on a regular basis.

“Every one of the 9,430 bridges across our 22-state, 19,500-mile network — including more than 1,460 in Pennsylvania — are inspected annually,” she said.

Despite those inspections, the tunnels in question are clearly deteriorating. Visible damage includes several cracks in the concrete as well as rusted and broken steel supports.

In March, Swartz told council that a resident came to him with three railroad spikes he said he found while walking through one of the tunnels. He said the spikes apparently fell from the rail line through the tunnel roof.

At that time, Swartz said, he contacted railroad officials, who told him they were aware of the problem and promised to correct it.

Apparently, that hasn't happened.

For example, Swartz said the rain gutter for the Fifth Street tunnel is broken and will soak anyone trying to walk through the tunnel during a rainstorm.

The tunnel problem becomes even more pronounced during cold weather, according to Swartz, who said that large icicles form when water flows through cracks in the tunnels during winter months, causing hazards for vehicles and pedestrians.

Tom Yerace is a freelance writer. Matthew Medsger is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 724-226-4675, mmedsger@tribweb.com, or via Twitter @matthew_medsger.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.

click me