Train encloses Lloyd Acres citizens

Lazaro Aleman, ECB Publishing, Inc.

County officials say they are exploring a possible alternative route that would allow Lloyd Acres residents to enter and leave their neighborhood in the event that a train blocks their only ingress/egress point for an extended period - a situation that has reportedly repeated itself at least three times in the last two months.
“We are looking at routes now,” District 4 Commissioner Betsy Barfield emailed the Monticello News on Monday, Aug. 13, in response to the question posed to her.
On Saturday, Aug. 11, Lynn Barr and Tiffany Prime, Lloyd Acres subdivision residents, emailed the News to report that on that same day, a train had blocked their only ingress/egress road for about two hours. And the weekend before that, another train had blocked the road for 5 to 5½ hours, they said.
“We've lived here a while and it's happening more and more often,” Prime said. “People need a way in and out. We have a bunch of elderly people and children back here.”
She said that all told there were between 60 and 70 houses that were affected every time that a train
broke down on the tracks and blocked the road. And residents got little to no information from the CSX people when they asked what was causing the problems, she said.
“The CSX people tell you nothing,” Prime said.
On Wednesday, July 18, a CSX train blocked the subdivision's road for more than 10 hours when it broke down on the tracks, preventing many from going to work or school for the day and creating concern should an emergency arise, as emergency vehicles wouldn't have been able to access the subdivision.
On Thursday, Aug. 2, the Jefferson County Commission briefly discussed for a second time the issue of possibly offering the Lloyd Acres residents relief by providing a bypass or alternative route for them to enter and exit their neighborhood in the event of another train breakdown. The discussion, however, didn't accomplish much.
Barfield, whose district encompasses the Lloyd Acres neighborhood, reported that she had talked to a couple of people about a possible alternative route but admittedly hadn't made much progress. She asked that the item be placed on the agenda for the Sept. 6 meeting.
The first time that the issue came before the board was on July 19, a day after the lengthy July 18 train incident, when Dan Snyder, a resident of the subdivision, addressed the commission about the problem.
Snyder made the point repeatedly that if an emergency should arise on the south side of the tracks when a train was stopped on the tracks, there was no way for emergency vehicles to get into the subdivision. He said that only two paths existed on the south side other than the one road. One path led to a cow pasture, he said. And the second, he said, led to a private resident.
“A fire truck or an ambulance couldn't get through in an emergency,” Snyder said. “It's my request to the board that you find a secondary access point at Wild Turkey or Murmuring Creek.”
According to Snyder, the train on July 18 had broken down on the tracks about 5:30 a.m. and hadn't been removed until about 4 p.m.
“This issue has come up before and it's died for whatever reason,” Snyder said. “But it's a legitimate concern that should be addressed after yesterday's incident.”
Barfield agreed. She told Snyder that she had received numerous emails from residents about the incident and had contacted CSX to learn what the problem was. She said CSX had told her that a knuckle or linchpin had come off one of the cars and the part had to be gotten and installed and the entire lengthy train then had to be inspected to ensure that everything was all right before it could proceed. In the process, Barfield said, CSX had told her that it had been discovered that someone had tampered with another of the knuckle hitches, which had caused a further delay.
“I don't know if they were blowing smoke up my skirt,” Barfield said. “But that's what they said.”
County Coordinator Parrish Barwick offered that the Lloyd Acres problem was compounded by two factors: One was the nature of the railroad company, he said. The other was getting the cooperation of adjoining property owners to allow for an alternative route.
“The railroad dances to its own tune,” Barwick said, alluding to CSX's reputed lack of cooperation.
The other, he said, was that that using a route through adjacent properties required obtaining the permission of the property owners, something that many weren't willing to do.
Commissioner J.T. Surles reiterated a concern that the two public roads initially mentioned as possible alternative routes were both prone to flooding. It would require, he suggested, building two bridges to make them passable, a costly and near impossible undertaking.