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Norfolk Southern attends Alburtis Borough Council meeting

Alburtis Borough Council met May 10 and heard a special presentation on railroad crossing safety by a representative from Norfolk Southern. This company has recently been in the news due to the derailment in East Palestine, Ohio.

Leon Jackson, an employee from Norfolk Southern and volunteer for Operation Lifesaver is based in Atlanta but has traveled extensively to talk about how dangerous it is to be on or around railroad properties and tracks. Operation Lifesaver’s primary goal is to spread the word on the importance of being extremely cautious around the railroad.

At 55 mph, the approximate stopping distance of a freight train can be over a mile long.

Jackson went over several caution tips and actions when near a railroad at any point. This includes what to do when stalling on a railroad crossing, walking near a track, crossing the railroad, and much more. An issue he highlighted was also low clearance across the tracks. Derailments can occur because of trailers or other pulled objects getting stuck on tracks due to low clearance. If this occurs, there are blue signs near the track that the responsible party should call immediately.

Police Chief Tony Alsleben said there have been nine railroad accidents at the West Penn Avenue Crossing just in the past year. He is very worried about future problems. Jackson said he did not believe adding extra warning signs or gates would benefit drivers. He emphasized driver behavior as most important in preventing accidents.

For more information on rail safety education, visit Operation Lifesaver online.

There were no reports from Mayor Kathleen Palmer or Alsleben; however, it was noted there was a drop in total incidents/reports from 130 in March to 106 in April.

Previous meeting minutes, bills for payment and the treasurer’s report were all approved without dispute. It was noted fines on trucks were way down compared to usual. The bills for payment amounted to $45,050.19.

Macungie Ambulance Corps responded to 11 calls from Alburtis. Council President Ron DeIaco said he is noticing a climb in calls month-to-month.

There was no discussion during the engineer’s report which was approved.

Council approved payment to Entech. This was the contractor who was completing the sanitary sewer lateral improvements program under the PA Small Water and Sewer grant contract.

Additionally, council approved payment to Linde Corporation for their work completed on the Chestnut Circle Stormwater Improvement Project.

Notice was given by Gander Industries on price adjustments for the upcoming Franklin Street Project. Inflation saw the overall cost rise by $12,656.30. There was worry by members of council on the late notice of these cost adjustments, plus rising prices over time.

There is an additional worry other upcoming infrastructure projects may need to reduce in scope or will push the borough over budget.

A motion was approved for reduced scope on the School Street Project due to the grant award being considerably less than the requested amount.

There will be a meeting to present the full Bicentennial Village Infrastructure Improvement Project to residents 6:30 p.m. May 24. The meeting will be held at the Alburtis Area Community Center.

There is concern from council they will need to reduce the scope of this project. In a correction, it was reported grant money would cover costs; however, the borough will be paying an unidentified amount for the Bicentennial Project.

The last item was a notice on PA Act 299, which would allow the Occupational Safety and Health Administration to do audits of public workspaces and places. This has not been passed yet, but the borough manager wanted to get this in front of council. It’s a bill that does have traction, but there is no timeline on when or if it will get passed.

The meeting was then adjourned for executive session. The next meeting will take place 7 p.m. May 31 at borough hall, 260 Franklin St.