WINTER HAVEN, Fla. (WFLA) - CSX work in Winter Haven is causing confusion for residents, and even the county.
CSX workers are currently working to upgrade 16 rail crossings in the southwest Winter Haven area.
The Polk County Board of County Commissioners and the County Manager's Office sent an email to WFLA that they are "aware that CSX Transportation's upgrading of 16 rail crossings in the southwest Winter Haven area has created repeated inconveniences for county commuters; however, there is little remedy for the county to improve the situation. Due to longstanding statutory agreements, CSX has near-autonomous power to close roadway crossings along their rail lines."
"We were completely unaware. We got up one morning to go to work and the road was closed," resident Sherie Ray said.
She told WFLA the closure near her home created long lines of traffic and confusion for drivers.
"In this instance, we believe that what was missed was there wasn't the heads up to people, that this is going to be closed anticipated from this date to this date," Polk County Director of Roads and Drainage Jay Jarvis told WFLA.
Polk County typically provides traffic re-direction for work occurring at CSX's public road crossings. For this project, CSX is using an out-of-state contractor that is performing the repairs and providing for the maintenance of traffic simultaneously.
"Neither CSX nor their contractor has communicated changes in scheduling to county staff; particularly updates related to work delays and extra detour days," an email stated.
"You pretty much know a road is closed when you get to it," another resident said.
"People see those as county roads, people think the county has control and can tell CSX what to do and that is not the case," Jarvis said.
Anyone wanting to report a public road crossing maintenance issue or complaint should call CSX at 800-332-4697. The automated phone menu directs callers to press #3 for road closure information.
Polk County asks drivers to remain patient, cautious and to add time to their trips through areas where road closures occur. Despite the annoyance, Polk County recognizes these repairs are necessary and will make for better and safer driving conditions when completed.
A representative for CSX responded to our request for comment with the following statement:
CSX is performing important maintenance work on the tracks and many of the crossings in and around Polk County. Crews travel along the tracks replacing crossties as they go and repaving crossings to provide a safe, smooth surface for motorists. This work is scheduled in close coordination with local roadway authorities, but because of a miscommunication, several crossings closed without proper notification. CSX regrets the confusion this may have caused drivers and we're working to understand how the miscommunication happened.
Below is a list of the remaining grade crossings that are expected to close for this work. This list is subject to change. CSX works hard to provide accurate estimates of when each closure is expected to begin, using message boards and detour signs to direct drivers. We encourage drivers to follow all posted roadway signs for their own safety and the safety of maintenance crews. Typically, the work at each crossing can be completed within three to five days, but crews can be delayed by adverse weather, mechanical issues on equipment or a number of other scenarios. CSX's goal is to get through all of these crossings by March 15th, and we appreciate the public's patience while we complete this important work.
Grade crossings expected to close:
- Croton Road
- Two unnamed private road crossings
- American Superior Road
- Lake Shipp Drive
- 24th Street
- 21st Street
- Spirit Lake
- Avenue G