Everyone who is planning or most importantly making the decisions regarding the County development of the Packerton Yard has overlooked the most important item/issue; namely SAFETY.
Consider a 100 car freight train moving through the Packerton Yard at approximately 25 miles per hour. Simultaneously a death threatening injury occurs at an industrial/commercial business which is now located on the river side of the present location of the tracks on which the freight train is travelling. When an accident occurs minutes and seconds for medical personnel and equipment to reach the injured person/persons are crucial. First responders having to wait for the freight train to clear the crossings becomes a matter of survival to the injured.
This disaster waiting to happen is totally avoidable. Also ask any railroad accident investigator and he/she will tell you the majority of train with vehicle accidents occur at crossings. Some drivers in a hurry think they can beat and will attempt to race oncoming trains to the crossing. Many times this results in serious injury and death to the impatient drivers.
Presently two crossings are planned and each planned crossing across the present location of the tracks will cost, according to figures I have seen/heard on/in the news media, $500,000. each. This adds up to a total cost of one million dollars. These million dollars will be better spent constructing a new set of tracks along the river through the Packerton yard, replacing the tracks where they now are located. When this is completed no crossings are needed.
I am sure the railroads will be elated when no crossings are needed. This will improve their present operations in the yard. They will not have to break the trains apart at the crossings as they do now while the cars are sitting in the yard waiting to be moved again. Also after relocating the tracks the railroads will be able operate with out concern for delivery and employee vehicles moving in and out of the developed property. Any business considering locating in the Packerton yard will be sure to look at the safety concern of rail/track crossings.
Lehighton Borough Council members, Mahoning Township supervisors, Carbon County Commissioners, Representative Heffley, and Senator Yudichak get together with the railroads and discuss the cost of completing this track relocation. It is of first importance and it can be completed without any disruption of rail service. During past negotiations, I am surprised that the railroads had not proposed this relocation of the tracks instead of constructing crossings.
Elected officials the time is now to lead and do what is needed for the safety of "we the people". We have directed/mandated you to make the best decisions on our behalf.
Gerald F. Strubinger,
of Carbon County