TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) – Traffic across South Tampa ground to a halt Wednesday over what the city calls “rogue repairs” to various railroad crossings.
The unexpected road closures tried drivers’ patience, cost come companies business, and posed threats to emergency vehicles that needed to get through.
Flying overhead, Eagle 8 HD witnessed countless drivers forced to turn around by more than a dozen railroad crossings closed for construction. The roads quickly clogged, turning ten minute drives into hour-long ordeals.
“I don’t know why every intersection has to be done at the same time,” said frustrated South Tampa resident Elizabeth Corwin. “Maybe CSX could have spread this out?”
Even the City of Tampa’s transportation director said he wasn’t aware of the closures until he found himself caught in the gridlock Wednesday morning. He explained to 8 On Your Side that CSX, the company that controls and maintains the railroads and rail crossings, closed multiple roads with very few detours and gave the city no notice.
“Last week, we received a schedule from CSX saying they were going to conduct some work. As soon as we received it, we put a traffic advisory out to the community to let them know what’s going to happen,” Director of Transportation Vik Bhide said. “They didn’t stick to that schedule.”
The city says some of the railroad repairs scheduled for last week spilled over into this week. Bhide says CSX tried to conduct too much work and closed too many roads all at once without sufficient detours. Then, city officials say CSX wouldn’t answer their calls.
“The first thing that goes through my head is – this is avoidable,” Bhide said. “If CSX had followed the right of way permitting process, we wouldn’t be where we are.”
But CSX tells 8 On Your Side it did notify the city of the closures. However, a company spokesperson added that CSX is “investigating this further to determien where improvements can be made.”
CSX also apologized for the inconvenience, with a promise that the following crossings would be open by 6 a.m. Thursday:
- W Euclid Avenue between S Gunlock Avenue and S Lynwood Avenue (Reopened Thursday morning)
- W El Prado Boulevard between S Concordia Avenue and W Drexel Avenue (Reopened Thursday morning)
- W Bay to Bay Blvd between S MacDill Avenue and S Ysabella Avenue (Reopened Thursday morning)
- N 20th Street between E 7th Avenue and E 5th Avenue. (Reopened around 7 am Thursday morning)
Two other crossings reopened on Thursday morning.
- Iowa Avenue between Manhattan Avenue and Coolidge Avenue (Reopened around 7 a.m. Thursday)
- Oklahoma Avenue between Manhattan Avenue and Lois Avenue (Reopened around 7 a.m. Thursday)
The following crossing are expected to reopen by 4 p.m. Thursday:
- W Cleveland Street between W Kennedy Boulevard and W Platt Street
- W Platt Street from S Dakota Avenue to S Willow Avenue
The following crossings are expected to reopen by 4 p.m. Friday:
- N 19th Street between E 7th Avenue and E 5th Avenue
Most other crossings will remain closed for 1-5 days, according to the city.
For a full list of estimated openings, click here.
CSX provided the following statement to 8 On Your Side Wednesday evening:
“As part of the company’s critical infrastructure maintenance program, CSX is conducting repairs on highway-rail grade crossings throughout Tampa. CSX has closely coordinated the closures with the city and we expect to reopen the Euclid Avenue, El Prado and Bay to Bay crossing (Thursday) morning, barring any weather delays or other unexpected issues. CSX apologizes to residents who may be impacted by this and we appreciate the public’s patience while we complete this important work, which is critical to ensuring the safety of motorists using these crossings and to maintaining a safe, reliable freight rail network.”
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