Letter: City, county must do more about train operations

Published 12:00 am Sunday, October 25, 2020

Am I the only one who appears troubled by the lack of information regarding the sudden switch of operations by Norfolk Southern that has generated disturbing sounds in and around the city during the night? 

Am I the only one who thinks that the city of Salisbury should have been more proactive and conducted an impact study of such a move on the citizens of the more vulnerable communities in Salisbury? How about keeping citizens who live in the city limits (and pay taxes accordingly) informed about this impending threat to the peace and quiet of our community? 

Am I the only one who has contacted the mayor of Salisbury, Karen Alexander, with questions about this matter, only to receive no reply?

Is the Salisbury Post the only source of information available to this point via their Ask Us column? That information indicated very little is known regarding this operation suddenly showing up in our community due to Norfolk Southern’s failure to reply to inquiries made by members of the press and other concerned citizens?

Let me describe what folks who live near the railroad tracks and beyond are hearing: metal on metal screeching, thunderous banging that sometimes sound like explosions, rail cars running back and forth with loud whistles, and more. Rather than living in a quiet area, these sounds sound like we are in a war zone. 

If Rowan County is trying to attract businesses for economic development, I am sure that, if they knew that Norfolk Southern had insinuated itself into our lives in this way, they may think twice about relocating their workers, who will discover too late that the home they bought or the apartment they are renting is in the middle of a war zone. 

Norfolk-Southern is not a good neighbor.  They refused the Virginia Transportation Museum the use of their tracks by the iconic steam engine 611, totally eliminating the fall and spring excursions to Asheville and to Lynchburg that this engine pulled. These excursions were enjoyed every year by citizens from Rowan County and beyond who traveled her for those trips.  These excursions also helped raised funds to support the maintenance of this beloved steam engine.  But somehow, these excursions were not good for their bottom line.

The city of Salisbury and Rowan County need to be more proactive in ensuring that these types of industrial businesses do not settle in the city limits.  Impact studies need to be done and the citizenry needs to be kept informed of these changes to the environment of those who live near the railroad tracks.

— Nancy S. Martino