- The Enterprise
- The Recorder
Repairs to make for smoother driving over the CSX railroad crossing on Charles Street in La Plata were complete Wednesday.
Originally, the Maryland State Highway Administration and CSX Transportation expected the repairs to take place through today, July 25.
Charles Street reopened at the crossing at noon Thursday.
Repairs will begin Monday on the CSX crossing near Pika Drive on Leonardtown Road and are expected to be completed by Aug. 1.
John Flatley, owner and operator of the Chick-fil-A on U.S. 301 in La Plata, said that Chick-fil-A Marketing Director Kathleen Young and the Chick-fil-A cow took some iced tea and lemonade to the CSX crew working on the crossing’s repairs Tuesday afternoon.
“I think it’s really cool that our refreshing them helped them get the work done quicker,” Flatley said.
He said he made a point of eating at restaurants on Charles Street during the closing of the railroad crossing in order to keep business up for them.
“Just that everyone that was involved worked well together, and that includes the town of La Plata and the State Highway Administration,” Rob Doolittle, spokesman for CSX, said of the repairs being completed ahead of schedule.
Bob Rager, SHA District 5 community liaison, also attributed to teamwork the fact that the repairs were completed early.
“We had such tremendous support,” Rager said, adding that the University of Maryland Charles Regional Medical Center made detour maps available in the hospital’s lobby on Charles Street and alerted drivers on the hospital’s billboard of the detour. “They were a phenomenal partner in this.”
Rager said he gives “kudos” to the hospital, the town and Charles County. The SHA also sent fliers containing a project description and suggested detour routes to homes and businesses in La Plata.
“We owe a lot to the town and the hospital, and I would add the businesses [in La Plata],” Rager said.
William Grimes, vice president of ancillary services for University of Maryland Charles Regional Medical Center, said in an email statement that communication among all parties involved in the project is credited with “very little disruption to our patients and staff.”
“We think the communication to our patients, visitors and staff regarding access to the hospital during the time of the closure was very well coordinated, and we appreciate the efforts of the State Highway Administration, Fire and EMS, county and town governments, sheriff’s department and all of our partners who worked with us throughout the process,” Grimes said.
Detective Sgt. William Brooks of the La Plata Police Department said extra officers were brought in during the railroad crossing repairs to help check traffic conditions regularly on Charles Street and side streets, including detour routes, and make sure drivers were not expressing their anger with the detour situation by speeding through nearby neighborhoods.
Brooks said complaints of speeding on Glen Albin Road, which served as a detour and has a posted 25-mph speed limit, prompted the police department to place a speed trailer on nearby Willow Lane to alert drivers of their speed.
“[Business has], of course, been slow because of [the detours],” said Keith Grasso, co-owner of Island Music Co. on Charles Street near the railroad crossing.
Grasso said the detour routes were confusing for people, and a lot of people came into his store asking for directions. He said repairs probably should have been done at night to avoid disrupting daytime traffic.
“It’s an improvement,” said Paul Bales, co-owner of Casey Jones Restaurant & Bar on Charles Street by the railroad crossing. As of Wednesday evening, Bales said the repairs were complete, except for allowing time for the new asphalt to cure. “I think they did an excellent job in such a short time.”
La Plata Mayor Roy Hale said the town now will be able to enjoy a permanent railroad crossing that should not require repairs for at least 20 years. The town, SHA and CSX worked together, Hale said, to make the repairs happen. Before, CSX had to replace timber and parts of the track every two years.
“We have been working with the Maryland Department of Transportation to get a permanent crossing on Charles Street, and I think everyone will be elated,” Hale said of the repairs.
Waldorf is bracing for the closure of Leonardtown Road at the rail crossing near Pika Drive, where work is expected to last July 28 through Aug. 1.