Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Council approves railroad improvement, safety plan

On May 22, Cincinnati City Council approved by a vote of 7-2 the Railroad Improvement and Safety Plan (RISP), which will serve as the guide for freight and passenger rail planning in the City.

The plan contains short- and long-term project recommendations and will be instrumental in helping the City obtain grants and other funding sources to upgrade its rail network.

Specifically, the improvements are placed into three groups:
  • Enhancing rail passenger service to Cincinnati Union Terminal;
  • Enhancing freight rail service to and through the City; and
  • Identifying railroad-related safety improvements.
The easiest fixes, depending on funding, include the implementation of "quiet zones" along the CSX lines in Hartwell, grade crossing improvements, traffic signal preemption at at-grade crossings, and bridge painting.

Other projects would require more approvals from the railroads, including a station and layover track for upgraded intercity Amtrak service at Cincinnati Union Terminal, reconstruction of improvements resulting from the Western Hills Viaduct, and capacity improvements that could be added at the former Conrail transfer station site in Riverside and Sedamsville.

Others, like re-establishing the Southwest Connection from the former Hilltop Basic Resources site to Cincinnati Union Terminal, upgrades at the Winton Place (Spring Grove Village) junction, and additional mainline tracks between Cincinnati Union Terminal and St. Bernard, will require significant help from operators.

RISP was identified as a priority in the "Connect" section of Plan Cincinnati, the comprehensive master plan adopted by the City last November.

The last comprehensive review of the railroad network occurred during preparation of the 1948 Cincinnati Metropolitan Master Plan.

Councilmembers Christopher Smitherman and Charlie Winburn voted against the resolution.

Read the draft version of the plan.

Previous reading on BC:
Initial railroad quiet zone study includes 6 crossings (2/19/13)
Quiet zones to be studied along heavy railroad corridor (5/14/12)