Pittsburgh Residents Opposing NS Clearance Plan

Norfolk Southern has encountered considerable citizen resistance to its plan to operate double-stacked container trains through the north side of Pittsburgh.

The dispute has gone to mediation after residents protested that the project to increase clearances in the city will cause added noise pollution as rail traffic increasedsfrom about 25 trains a day to as many as 50.

The residents have also expressed concern about the type of cargo that the train will carry.

NS plans to raise bridges at Pennsylvania and West North avenues, lower the tracks at Columbus Avenue Bridge and build a new Merchant Street Bridge.

NS said raising the bridges is needed because it cannot lower the tracks in some areas.

The project in April 2017 received a $20 million grant from the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation for the bridge work. NS will pay $8.2 million.

The Pittsburgh residents sought mediation after the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission declined to intervene on their behalf against the bridge construction work.

The mediator, who was chosen by NS and the Northside Leadership Conference, has said he will work with NS.

PennDOT representatives are meeting with community groups to listen to their concerns.

NS has said that routing stack trains over its Pittsburgh Line, which is also used by Amtrak’s Pennsylvanian, is a shorter and faster route than the Mon Line that the carrier currently uses.

The Mon Line bypasses downtown Pittsburgh, running along the south side of the Ohio and Monongahela rivers.

Work on the clearance project has already begun in the suburbs, but no work has yet been undertaken in the city.

A Pennsylvania court had agreed to hear arguments on the dispute, but delayed the hearings for at least 90 days to allow the mediation process to play out.

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