Cargo trains could begin running any time, an official says.
By NORMAN LEIGH
VINDICATOR SALEM BUREAU
BOARDMAN -- The Columbiana County Port Authority can claim at least a temporary legal victory in its effort to restore the former Youngstown & amp; Southern Railway to service.
Earlier this week, a federal judge in Akron granted an order requiring the Boardman Township Park District to remove barricades it had erected on a set of tracks that run along the main line.
The order will remain in place pending further court arguments on a dispute that led to the barriers' being placed there several weeks ago.
What's scheduled: A hearing on the matter is set for 1:30 p.m. June 6 before U.S. District Court Judge Peter C. Economus in Youngstown.
In a federal lawsuit filed earlier this month, the port authority argued that the barricades were preventing crews from making repairs to the track section and hindering a plan to make the railroad operable again.
Tracy Drake, port authority director, said Friday that the barricades have been cleared and crews now are making repairs.
Rail cargo could begin moving between Youngstown and Boardman as early as next week, Drake said.
The port authority owns the former Youngstown & amp; Southern Railway, which is being restored to service as the Central Columbiana & amp; Pennsylvania Railroad.
The 36-mile-long line stretches from Youngstown to Darlington, Pa., passing through Columbiana County.
What caused fuss: The dispute between the port authority and the park district arose over a nearly 1,300-foot track section known as a "doubling track."
The section lies along the main tracks south of U.S. Route 224, along Southern Boulevard, near Boardman Supply Co., 7357 Southern Blvd. It also is near Boardman Park.
The doubling track will serve Boardman Supply and enable the railroad operator to temporarily store railroad cars.
The park district, however, says it owns the doubling track.
In its lawsuit, the port authority acknowledges the park owns the land under the tracks but alleges the ownership fails to include easements and rights of way pertaining to the doubling track.
Despite the legal entanglements, Drake said he's enthusiastic about the prospect of the railroad's being operable again.
"It's good to see it getting close to reality," Drake said.
Background: The port authority succeeded in buying the railroad for $1.1 million in January after months of negotiations and regulatory disputes with the line's former owner, Railroad Ventures Inc., Boardman.
Plans call for trains to resume operations initially on the railroad's northern end.
This summer, crews are expected to repair tracks through Columbiana County and have trains running there by the end of summer, Drake said.