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Will new owner of Y&S rail be ‘good neighbor’ for Boardman?

Published: Thu, May 17, 2012 @ 12:00 a.m.

As executives of the Canadian company intending to buy the controversial Youngstown & Southern Railroad familiarize themselves with the history of the system, they should ask to see a letter from Boardman Township trustees to Tracy Drake, executive director of the Columbiana County Port Authority, which owns the rail line. The letter makes a simple request: Please clean up the tracks so as to meet zoning codes.

If the officials of Calgary-based Tervita Corp.do get a hold of it, they would also find a two-line written response from Drake that said any named zoning violations are “pre-empted by federal law.”

Why? Because Y&S is under federal jurisdiction.

But Drake took the battle with Boardman a step further last year when he contended that any complaints about the blighted condition of the tracks should be directed to the railroad company that was operating the system at the time, Indiana Boxcar Corp., which had crews and engines on the rail line.

Boardman Trustee Thomas Costello, who has long complained about the deteriorated tracks and the debris along the route, put the issue in its proper perspective with this comment: “All I am asking is that if you are going to operate in the township, be a good neighbor. Part of that means cleaning up your property.”

Costello, who has described the property along the tracks as an “eyesore,” is correct in noting that all the box cars should be tarped to prevent debris from flying off. The president of Indiana Boxcar Corp. denied that the debris was flying off the cars and contended that the tops were covered with netting. The company hauled construction and demolition material to a landfill in Negley.

President Powell Felix said the railroad did not create the type of trash township residents and officials have complained about.

“I’m not saying something could never come off,” Felix said. “ ... if it did we’d be glad to come take care of it, but the cars have not had any significant history on leaving a debris field.”

Not exactly the neighborly response Boardman Township officials were expecting.

Which brings us to Tervita, the Canadian company that is paying $2.9 million to the Columbiana County Port Authority for the Y&S Railroad. Tervita provides environmental and energy services to various industries, including the shale industry, according to the Associated Press.

State loan

The purchase will be finalized by July 16 when the letter of intent is executed with a $150,000 payment. According to Drake, $1.2 million of the $2.9 million will be used to pay off an Ohio Rail Development Commission loan, while $500,000 will pay off a bank loan.

The commission has agreed to forgive $1 million in penalties owed by the port authority for falling behind on payments to the agency after a potential buyer, Eastern States, failed to follow through with its purchase.

Tervita also will buy the Negley landfill or a major interest in the facility.

So, with its presence in the Mahoning Valley — the 36-mile rail line runs from Boardman to Darlington, Pa. — will the Canadian company respect the wishes of the Boardman trustees and the residents of the township with regard to the upkeep of the tracks and the cleanliness of the property?

We would hope so, given that the line runs through the heart of one of the busiest commercial centers in the Mahoning Valley.


1NoBS(2697 comments)posted 4 years ago

Tervita should also know that former Boardman trustees spent taxpayer money to plant shrubs along the (private property) railroad tracks, to reduce the eyesore. And when the Y&S objected to them because of the increased maintenance of the bushes and the grass mowing that would have to be done by hand around them, those same trustees began using taxpayer money to mow and maintain that same private property.

The bushes were planted close to the tracks, and when the Columbiana Port Authority acquired the rail line, they had to replace many of the railroad ties. The equipment used to do that destroyed most of the bushes. But I think Boardman still mows the grass in the middle of Southern Blvd along the tracks.

Suggest removal:

2walter_sobchak(2634 comments)posted 4 years ago

Why can't they use Mahoning County day-reporting prisoners to walk the track and fill plastic bags? What abot CCA personnel? The trash I see is not construction debris.

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3boardmanres(40 comments)posted 4 years ago

the Boardman Trustee meeting on
Tuesday May 15, 2012. At that meeting, the trustees advised us that the rail
line that runs along Southern Boulevard had been purchased by a Canadian company
to service the shale industry. They also told us that the new company was
requesting permits to:
1. Add 1000 cars
2. Increase the speed from 10mph to 25mph
3. Carry hazardous waste

I've requested additional information from the trustees, including a copy of the
permit application(s) if possible, and also who is responsible for
approving/denying these applications. We need to mobilize to stop this from
happening. I can't see any good coming from hazardous waste being transported
next to our homes, our hospitals, our schools and our businesses.

I'll post more as information becomes available. In the meantime, PLEASE don't
wait - take action. Call your lawmakers and encourage your friends and
neighbors to do the same:
Tim Ryan: Youngstown 330-740-0193; Washington 202-225-5261
Ronald Gerberry 614-466-6107
Joe Schiavoni 614-466-8285

These folks are also worth a shot:
Ohio Rail Development Commission (part of the Ohio Department of Transportation)
Voting members of the Commission:
James G. Bradley, Chair; Retired, Wheeling-Pittsburgh Steel Corporation,

Thomas B. McOwen, Vice Chairman; Trustee, Cincinnati Southern Railway,

Barbara Hammontree Bennett, Partner, Hammontree and Associates Limited,

Robert Greenlese, Retired, Toledo-Lucas County Port Authority,

Solomon Jackson, Manager of Real Estate, Norfolk Southern Corporation,

Christiane Schmenk, Director, Ohio Department of Development (Kevin Potter,
designee), kevin.potter@development.ohio.gov

William Lozier, Licking County Engineer, william.lozier@dot.state.oh.us

Ronald C. Rasmus, President and CEO, The Greak Lakes Group,

Larry C. Sowers, Legislative Advocate, Ohio State Council of Carpenters,

Jerry Wray, Director, Ohio Department of Transportation (Gregory Murphy,
designee), greg.murphy@dot.state.oh.us

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4walter_sobchak(2634 comments)posted 4 years ago

As I understand it, railroads are under the control of the federal govt thru the US Railroad Administration and the Surface Transportation Board. That being said, hazardous waste is already being transported next to our schools, hospitals, homes, and businesses by trucks on a highway. If adding cars and speed on the RR will help it develop and bring more business to the area, have at it. This would take a sizable investment. What makes Boardman any more special than Salem, Leetonia, Alliance, etc. where trains pass through many times a day?

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5republicanRick(1700 comments)posted 4 years ago

1000 more cars? Great, just great for the traffic light at 224 and Southern Blvd.

You will have monumental traffic jams .

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6jeepers(127 comments)posted 4 years ago

What kind of hazardous waste? Who is responsible for the crossings that are so rough that speeds over 10 mph damage vehicles? I lost 1 exhaust system on Indianola Rd/Southern Blvd. Try driving it at 30 mph and see what happens to your car. Can only avoid it so long, then you have to cross one way or another. Just saying--

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7ytownsteelman(680 comments)posted 4 years ago

boardmanres, First of all, nobody in that list you gave has any authority to do anything that you propose. And that is a good thing, because if people like you across the US got their way, this country would grind to a halt and none of us would have jobs.

I am very familiar with railroads, but I do not know what kind of "permits" the rail line has to obtain to increase the number of carloads handled or to upgrade their trackage. Increasing the speed limit is a function of track condition. The track now is considered excepted by the FRA, a 25 mph limit is Class 2 track.

I am not sure what hazardous materials they wish to transport, but its probably just fracking liquids. There are no large chemical plants along the Y&S and no hazardous waste dumps either. But there may be injection wells.

This purchase is the best thing to happen to the Y&S since the railroad was built in 1903. It is a line that refuses to die, thanks in large part to Tracy Drake who never gave up on it.

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8ytownsteelman(680 comments)posted 4 years ago

jeepers, compared to the general condition of the roads in Youngstown, those crossings are SMOOTH!

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