Painesville neighborhood fights for compromise over CSX train horns, train idling and fumes

Painesville leaders exploring compromise with CSX

PAINESVILLE, Ohio - Dozens of residents living in Painesville's Heisely Park subdivision just want CSX to be a better neighbor.

Residents claim over the past six months excessive CSX train whistles and trains parking in their backyards have kept them awake at all hours of the night.

Homeowners like Ben Ricci believe just a few changes in train protocol will go a long way.

"We all knew that there where trains here when we moved in, but obviously it's gotten absolutely worse," said Ricci.

"The trains will sit idle for three or four days right behind these homes, it's just really annoying. As the other trains come by, they'll lay on their horns. It will be one, two, three, four o'clock in the morning."

Many of the residents have lived in the subdivision for several years, but told NewsChannel5 changes in train traffic and habits have made their lives more difficult since last summer.

Chris Ricci explained, from time to time, train whistle operators will play a game with each other at all hours of the early morning.

"You hear toot-toot, or one long toot from Mentor all the way into Painesville," said Ricci. "Then they'll get creative, they'll do toot-toot, and then the other train will go toot-toot back, like they're really funny. But we're not really laughing anymore, it's not funny at all."

Some parents living in the Painesville subdivision, like Michelle Bissell, are concerned the parked, idling trains are creating air quality issues. Bissell is worried her two-year-old son is being effected by the fumes.

"He has reactive airways, and so anything that gets in the air is effecting him," explained Bissell. "He coughs a lot at night, he can't sleep. We don't know how much of that is the trains, or how much isn't. But that's my biggest concern as a parent is the environment."

Painesville Assistant City Manager Doug Lewis has been working with CSX in the search for a solution. Lewis has even contacted the Federal Railroad Administration.

In response, NewsChannel5 reached out to CSX headquarters, hoping to get all sides working together for a compromise.

CSX issued the following statement to Painesville city officials in response to complaints about trains parked behind the subdivision:

We are Reviewing the potential for staging trains along the capacity siding at varying intervals to avoid
locomotive visibility to the residents.

• Reviewing existing rules standards as it pertains to the sounding of the train's horn when a
moving train approaches a non-moving train on the siding.

• Including written guidance for the CSX dispatching service to make every attempt to avoid
staging trains in this capacity siding.

• Meeting again later this spring with City officials to conduct a site visit along the capacity siding
and review operational standards and potential modifications.

Meanwhile, Congressman David Joyce (OH-14) is set to meet with residents on June 30 in an effort to produce answers.

Congressman Joyce issued the following statement in response to our story:

“I want to try to find a reasonable solution. I think the residents understand they moved in next to train tracks and were prepared for the noise from that locomotive traffic. However, they were not prepared for trains to be parked behind their homes all day and night. I’m hopeful we can find a solution to help mitigate the problem and look forward to chatting with residents on Monday to hear their ideas on how to do that.”

NewsChannel5 and newsnet5.com will continue to bring you the latest information on this developing story.

Residents like Amy Clare understand federal safety standards require train whistles, but she's just hoping for some minor changes in train protocol.

"So if they could just get together with us and find a solution," said Clare. "Whether it be to park somewhere else, and only beep the horn when they have to."

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