Friday, October 28, 2016

Trains, Lawyers, CSX And The Fight For Bowling Green's Robinson Avenue Crossing

     I have lived in Bowling Green, Ky, (Pop. 65,000) for almost 30 years now.
And 18 of those years, I have lived six houses down from some train tracks owned by CSX Transportation of Jacksonville, Fla.  CSX operates its many trains that travel up and down the railroads pulling railcars filled with tons and tons of cargo. Who knows what's passing by our neighborhood in the middle of the night?  It's could be railroad cars full of nuclear waste or parts of a nuclear warhead for all I know. lol. But I am used to hearing the trains passing through our neighborhood at night or during the daytime and I hardly even notice them blowing their loud horns anymore. It has become something in the back of my subconscious mind and part of  my dream's landscape when I am sound asleep. My wife, Patty and I, use the Greenway (a wide public sidewalk) that runs along the CSX tracks and Creason Avenue just about everyday.  We walk our Australian Shepherd, "Jude" on it and I ride my bicycle up and down the Greenway, riding all the way down and back from Western Kentucky University which is about a mile from my house.  Usually, a train or two passes by when I am on the Greenway which is a very usual and normal occurrence to say the least.  To me, the CSX train tracks and trains are synonymous with the City of Bowling Green and its citizens.  The trains here have a long history and have been traveling through our city for many, many years. Bowling Green even has a restored L&N Depot now called "The Historic Railpark and Museum" where you can pay to take tours of the building and go aboard some parked rail cars next to the depot. We have lots of train lovers in this part of Southern Kentucky.
 However, some trouble started arising during the last year or two, when the citizens of Bowling Green noticed that CSX was beginning to block some busy road crossings more often than usual such as Emmett Avenue and Robinson Avenue that lead to Russellville Road just off Creason Avenue.  CSX always blocked them some but not as often it seems lately.  I began posting pics of the Emmett Avenue road crossing being blocked CSX on Twitter and tagged local newspaper journalist and photographer, Joe Imel {@joeimel} who now has 37,000 followers.  I was doing it as a PSA (public service announcement) to let people know that the road is blocked and that they should make a detour.
 I think some followers appreciated it but I know a lot of followers would get angry when they found out that CSX was blocking the crossroads again.  It seems like the Robinson Avenue crossing was always being blocked.  It's about a mile down the street from the Emmett Road crossing close to my house.  However, in May of this year, the City of Bowling Green had made a deal with CSX to sell them a portion of land for $50,000 at the Robinson Avenue at-grade crossing and to allow them to closed it off this summer without the citizens knowing about it until our local newspaper, the Bowling Green Daily News published a story regarding the closure. The reason for the closing of Robinson Avenue is that CSX claims that they are running some longer trains now and they need to more trains that run from Indianapolis to Nashville. So the need for "passing" or "side" tracks has also increased to allow the trains to pass each other as they travel in opposite directions.  Apparently, the City of Bowling Green had tried get CSX back away from closing the crossing at Robinson Avenue after they realized it had caused an uproar with a lot of its citizens.
     Naturally, a lot of citizens especially those who lived in a neighborhood known as "Cedar Ridge" and in the WKU general area which is basically next to the tracks separated by Creason Avenue and a Greenway  where people walk and ride bicycles between Western Kentucky University and WKU's South Campus were upset.  Mainly, the residents became upset with the city over this because they felt that they were not informed first before the deal was made with CSX.  Also, Kelly Thompson who also lives in the neighborhood, is a local lawyer and a judge of the Kentucky Court of Appeals, where he represents the 2nd Appellate District, Division 2, filed a lawsuit against CSX and the City of Bowling Green.
     Then it was announced in September that several businesses on the Russellville Road which just across the tracks had join the lawsuit.  But for now though, I understand, CSX has decided not to close the crossing. Bottom line is that CSX had originally said it would close the crossing at Robinson Avenue although the city sought a temporary injunction to prohibit the railroad from closing the street.  I made a video of the Robinson Avenue crossing this past summer on my blog's Facebook page.
     In a motion filed in Warren Circuit Court recently, CSX said it would refrain from closing the crossing until the court had ruled on the railroad's motion. So Robinson Avenue will stay open at least until the next court date which is set for November 7.  Yay or nay, I will make the proper adjustments and take the necessary short cuts on certain streets to get where I am going if Robinson Avenue is closed.  And course, I will obey the speed limit and watch out for pedestrians, dogs, cats, children playing and squirrels while driving through our beautiful neighborhoods. But I am like most citizens who live in our neighborhood, I do hope that CSX and the City of Bowling Green as well as our area residents, can come to agreement to keep the Robinson Avenue crossing open. Because it's a very important function to our network of city streets, neighborhoods and business districts which are close by.