Expressions of outrage from a local attorney, along with pleas for help from Mount Olive Mayor Joe Scott have finally prompted a response from CSX Railroad about horrid railroad crossing conditions at four locations in town.
In an email to Scott, railroad authorities assured the mayor the crossing conditions will be repaired by the first of the year.
The email was sent to Scott from John Dillard, director of State Government Relations for CSX Railroad. It read, “Mayor Scott, I have been in touch with CSX engineering. The plan is to work the crossings and install new materials by the end of the year. I will continue to monitor and update you if the schedule changes.”
It was dated Aug. 30.
The crossings of concern are located along Center Street at College, James, Main and Pollock streets.
Several weeks ago, the Tribune ran a front page story about the issue after Town Manager Charles Brown said there had been a proliferation of complaints about “the horrid conditions of the crossings.”
Local attorney Douglas Connor filed a complaint about the issue with the N.C. Attorney General’s office in July.
The entirety of his letter is as follows: “Dear Sir: I have entered into discussions with the Mayor of Mount Olive about the sorry state of the railroad crossings in Mount Olive. There are at least four crossings within the city limits that are truly dangerous. I am writing this letter without any formal town capacity or instructions from the Mayor.
“But, the Mayor did express his frustration with the railroad and wished there was someone who would assist the Town in getting some relief. I then volunteered to write the letter and he did urge me to continue to do so.”
“He did tell me he personally called the railroad about several crossings. To summarize what I understand was the response was ‘they blow him off.’ After all, who is the Mayor of the little Town of Mount Olive when dealing with the big railroad? Hopefully, railroad officials will at least talk to your office. Thanking you in advance for any assistance you can do for our little town.”
Connor’s letter was dated July 25.
On Aug. 29, Scott received an email from the Attorney General Josh Stein’s office advising him that Connor’s letter had been forwarded to CSX Railroad engineering.
“Thank you for your prompt response to Mr. Connors’ letter,” Scott replied. “For more than two to three years we have had issues at the crossings of College, James, Main, and Pollock Streets. These crossings have very bad gaps and missing ties with nail spikes sticking up, causing damage to tires. The materials to repair these crossings have been here for some time, but there has been little or no response from CSX engineers when and if they are going to do anything. Hope you can help us in solving these problem areas.”
The response from CSX came the next day.
“I would certainly like to thank attorney Connor for his concern and his letter. I also thank both the AG’s office and CSX for their timely response,” the mayor told the Tribune.