Posts Tagged ‘State of Ohio’

Ohio Sues NS Over East Palestine Derailment

March 15, 2023

The Ohio attorney general has filed suit against Norfolk Southern over the Feb. 3 derailment in East Palestine.

The suit was filed on Tuesday in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio and seeks compensatory and punitive damages. This includes forcing NS to pay for the costs of cleaning up the derailment.

The state is alleging that NS put profits ahead of the health, safety and welfare of the communities through which it operated and the derailment was “entirely avoidable.”

NS violated state and federal laws, including those regarding air and water pollution and hazardous wastes, the suit claims.

Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost did not specific a dollar amount that the state is seeking through the lawsuit, but described it as  “lots — maybe lots and lots.”

Yost noted that NS has agreed to take responsibility for the damages caused by the derailment and the lawsuit is meant to ensure that it does so.

In a statement, NS said it has been working with Yost’s office on three additional program for East Palestine residents affected by the derailment.

NS said these include a long-term medical compensation fund, “tailored protection” for home sellers if their property loses value, and long-term protection of local drinking water.

Ohio Gets Support in Rail Court Case

January 8, 2023

Nine states and the District of Columbia are supporting a case brought by the State of Ohio before the U.S. Supreme Court regarding state authority to regulate railroad grade crossings.

Ohio appealed to the high court a lower court ruling that only the U.S. Surface Transportation Board has authority to regular railroad activities at grade crossings.

The case stemmed from blocked grade crossings by CSX trains. Ohio argues in the case that CSX has frequently blocked crossings and thus impeded public safety.

Filing a brief in support of Ohio’s position was a brief submitted by Indiana Attorney General Todd Rokita that argued that no federal law or regulation addresses blocked crossings. Therefore state and local intervention is needed because railroads often become roadblocks to life-saving emergency care.

Briefs filed in the case cited Federal Railroad Administration reports of 25,374 blocked crossings from December 2019 to September 2021.

However, the agency only investigated 906 of them because FRA jurisdiction is limited.

Ohio and other states want the high court to rule on the question of whether, as the lower court ruled, only the STB has legal authority to regulate grade crossings.

In making their case, the states said the STB usually does not address blocked grade crossing cases and that case law is unclear as to who at the federal level has the ability to regulate blocked crossings.

Typically, states have sought to regulate grade crossings by approving laws or regulations saying how long a train may block a crossing.

A case similar to the one involving Ohio and CSX has played out in court in Kansas involving BNSF. That case arose in Chase County after a BNSF train blocked a road for more than four hours.

In dismissing the case, a Kansas appeals court cited the Ohio case ruling that only the STB can regulate railroad activities at grade crossings.

Other groups that have filed briefs in support of Ohio include the Ohio Prosecuting Attorneys Association and a joint filing from the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen, the International Association of Sheet Metal, Air, Rail, and Transportation Workers, and the Academy of Rail Labor Attorneys. 

Lima to Launch Traffic Mitigation Pilot

February 11, 2021

A pilot smart transportation project is being undertaken in Lima to mitigate traffic delays from trains blocking grade crossings.

The project will alert drivers to traffic delays caused by passing trains and provide navigation assistance.

It will use technology, some of which is still in the developmental stage, to collect data about approaching trains and provide information to drivers.

Funding for the project is being provided from the State of Ohio to Spectrum internet company and nonprofit organization US Ignite.

Lima sees an average of 35 trains a day and city official said the passage of these trains can cause long traffic delays that could hinder the ability of fire trucks and ambulances to respond to emergencies.