Chesapeake drivers upset railroad work will prevent access to neighborhood for 12 hours

Posted at 5:15 PM, Jan 10, 2020

CHESAPEAKE, Va.— Railroad repairs are causing outrage in Chesapeake.

Some residents won’t be able to drive in or out of their neighbornood for 12 hours during the day next week.

CSX Railroad is performing railroad maintenance starting Tuesday at eight different crossings in the Bower Hills area.

For the Cedar Grove Acres neighbors, that means from 8 a.m. - 8 p.m. vehicles can’t drive in or out of their neighborhood. Their only option is to walk.

Some residents say they plan to park their cars on the outside of the neighborhood so they can walk over the tracks and still be able to use their car.

Walking over the tracks might be easy for some people who live close to the front of the neighborhood, but the walk could easily be a half-mile away for those who live in the back.

Carol Gile is most concerned for the residents who are older and have health issues, like her mother.

“My mother is 90 years old. I’m going to meet her caregiver, try to save her a space over there, move my car, come home and hike it back to my house so she can leave.”

Residents says they’ve asked the city in the past to create a second entrance, but the city says the cost of getting around a nearby wetlands would be too expensive.

Friday afternoon, upset neighbors placed lawn signs in front of the railroad with statements like, “Blacks are being railroaded,” and “Don’t block our children from their school.”

The City of Chesapeake says an emergency vehicle will be stationed inside the neighborhood and will be able to leave if necessary. School buses will stop at the tracks and students will have to walk across. Mail and trash pickup could be interrupted.

Even though it’s not a city project, neighbors say the city should have said something sooner.

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“The lack of communication about the work to be done at the railroad track is just continuing problem that we’ve had for years,” says Giles.

The City of Chesapeake says they found out about the project in mid-December but says CSX Railroad didn’t release the specific dates until last Friday.

"We have to hope that it doesn’t rain because then we are delayed another day," says Giles.

The city says it began putting information online and on social media earlier in the week, but residents say a letter they received Friday morning is the first time they were formally notified of the work that is scheduled on Tuesday.