Council passes resolution on train derailments


In response to a string of recent train derailments throughout Ohio, including a five-car derailment near city limits on Jan. 25, Delaware officials passed a resolution on Monday urging both the federal and state governments to enact legislation addressing railroad safety.

Delaware City Council voted unanimously to approve the resolution, which states, “The Council of the City of Delaware finds that it is in the best interests of the citizens of the city to pass a resolution urging the legislative branches of the Federal government as well as the State of Ohio to enact legislation to further protect our citizens from the inherent dangers of train tracks located in or near the City of Delaware.”

On Jan. 25, a Norfolk Southern train derailed immediately south of the Curve Road rail crossing in Delaware Township, just a week prior to the unmitigated disaster in East Palestine, Ohio, as a result of another Norfolk Southern train derailment. Norfolk Southern and the Delaware County Office of Homeland Security and Emergency Management reported that no hazardous materials were contained in the cars involved in the local derailment, but little else has been shared about the nature of the derailment or the next steps to ensure it doesn’t happen again.

Earlier this month, Norfolk Southern added a third train derailment to its calamitous three-month run when train cars went off the tracks in Springfield, Ohio.

During Monday’s meeting, City Manager Tom Homan expressed his issues with the lack of communication the city has received from Norfolk Southern regarding the local derailment and how it’s being addressed.

“It continues to be my concern that we have not heard back yet from Norfolk Southern regarding the railroad derailment,” Homan said. “I have texted my contact at Norfolk Southern and still have not heard back, unfortunately. I know they are obviously preoccupied with what’s going on in East Palestine, but I really think it is somewhat inexcusable that we have not even at least been notified as to what happened, why, and what is going to be done about it.”

Homan added, “The resolution before you urges both the federal and state government to take action through the support of additional oversight. I know that Senator (JD) Vance and Senator (Sherrod) Brown have cosponsored legislation in the Senate. There is a number of initiatives. Gov. (Mike) DeWine is obviously taking what actions the state can take as well. But I do think that it’s overdue. It’s unfortunate that it takes a crisis to require us to do these things, but in this case, it has, so I would urge the passing of the amended resolution before you this evening.”

The run of Norfolk Southern derailments brings about an additional potential safety concern for the City of Delaware given its agreement with the company as part of The Point project, which will involve the construction of a temporary rail bridge that will be used for approximately one year while improvements are made.

Asked by Councilwoman Catlin Frazier about any potential concerns regarding the bridge’s construction, Deputy City Engineer Jonathan Owen said he is “fairly confident” the bridge will be constructed appropriately given the amount of oversight that will be involved with the project.

“Norfolk Southern is requiring oversight from their company or their consultants to be onsite during construction of all the rail improvements, including the temporary bridge,” Owen said. “So they will have quite a bit of oversight that we’re paying for, incidentally, from a construction and inspection standpoint to make sure it is constructed appropriately to support the rail traffic.”

Reach Dillon Davis at 740-413-0904. Follow him on Twitter @DillonDavis56.

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