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Belpre mayor looks into railroad complaints

Published: Aug. 13, 2020 at 8:40 PM EDT
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PARKERSBURG, W.Va (WTAP) - Belpre city officials have received several complaints regarding increased train activity through the city.

The complaints range from the trains moving too fast to making too much noise.

Mayor Mike Lorentz has been investigating the reports, saying he has seen a train moving through the area more quickly than he is used to. He spoke with rail yard workers and the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio, both of whom say no laws have been broken and that engineers have been following the 25 mile per hour speed limit.

“I watched, and I witnessed one moving through there quicker than normal, so I called the company and talked to them. The speed limit is 25 mph and yesterday the PUCO confirmed that is the speed limit and they have not violated that,” said Lorentz.

Lorentz says the PUCO worker he spoke to has the authority to pull a train’s black box and check when it was going a certain speed.

“If he had any concerns [a train wasn’t following the speed limit,] he would check,” said Lorentz.

Lorentz suspects there has been a recent increase in train activity for the area, as a new company has taken over a fracking plant nearby. A new railroad operator is also in the area.

“I’ve lived here for almost 70 years now. There’s always been a rail line through here. When it was active, you’d sit at the railroad crossing for 10 to 15 minutes at a time waiting for it to clear, and that in and of itself was a brute. But, we lost industry. That’s why it diminished,” said Mayor Mike Lorentz.

Lorentz says he understands the complaints, but also wants people to remember the importance of the railroad to area industry and economic development.

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