This week’s Lancaster Watchdog examines railroads without rail crossings, as well as complaints of a construction site bringing dust and noise to neighbors, both in Manheim Township.
Little warning on tracks
A resident in Manheim Township reached out to Watchdog on a nuisance and potential safety issue at railroad tracks.
The area in question, the intersection of a Norfolk Southern railroad and Manheim Pike just north of Lancaster city, has been of concern for years.
Trains have passed through the intersection with little warning aside from honking, the reader said — sometimes without stopping.
The concern isn’t without reason — there were 76 crashes at rail crossings across the state in 2017, according to the state Department of Transportation, resulting in two fatalities and 51 injuries.
The railroad crossing in question is one of many in Lancaster County that lack automatic lights and gates that lower when trains are nearing and passing an intersection.
However, there are still rules on gate-less rail crossings, according to Ashley Schoch, a spokeswoman with PennDOT.
Norfolk Southern is required by the Pennsylvania Utility Commission (PUC) to have a railroad flagman dismount the train before reaching an intersection and stop traffic before the train moves through.
Watchdog has reached out to Norfolk Southern for comment and did not hear back as of Friday last week.
One solution — the installation of lights and gates at the crossing — is possible. Potential sites must be reviewed PennDOT district staff to warrant funding for the signals.
PennDOT is currently in the review process to determine future gates for its 2021-2024 Grade Crossing Safety Program, Schoch said.
Several readers have reached out to Watchdog on what they call a noisy, messy construction site near the New Holland Pike exit from Route 30 in Manheim Township.
“The dust, mud on the roadway as well as near-miss vehicle crashes caused by the dump truck traffic is cause for concern,” one reader mentioned.
The area is owned by Grandview Lane Properties LP, which owns Charter Homes. In 2016, the developer sought rezoning of 1251 New Holland Avenue to build up to 175 new apartments. The rezoning proposal was denied 3-1 by township commissioners, according to meeting minutes.
For the last few years, the property sat relatively quiet until about six months ago, when the Board of Commissioners approved conditional use for work on the area’s floodplain.
The developer has not submitted proposals for future plans on the property.
Since then, dust has emanated from the site and has settled on nearby neighborhoods.
Several complaints were lodged to the Lancaster County Conservation District, confirmed Liz Deming, a resource conservationist at the district’s erosion and sediment control department.
Deming said she visited the site late last week and compiled an inspection report with findings in need of correction by Grandview. The report will be sent to the developer early this week with a follow-up inspection in the following weeks, she added.
Watchdog has filed a Right-to-Know request seeking a copy of the inspection report.
Notice any problems?
Email the Lancaster Watchdog at email@example.com or go to lancasteronline.com/watchdog and tell us about it. You can also send mail to Lancaster Watchdog at P.O. Box 1328, Lancaster, PA 17608-1328.