SNOW HILL – County officials will not make Central Site Lane a public roadway despite a request from the Maryland Delaware Railroad.
The Worcester County Commissioners last week voted unanimously to keep Central Site Lane private. The Maryland Delaware Railroad had asked officials to consider making the road public so federal funds could be sought for improvements to the crossing.
“They’re not going to shut the railroad down because of this one private crossing,” Commissioner Jim Bunting said.
Public Works Director John Tustin told the commissioners he’d been contacted by Cathrin Banks, president of the railroad, regarding the condition of the grade crossing at Central Site Lane.
“Historically over the last 10 years they’ve been able to use federal funds to improve grade crossings across the line,” Tustin said. “Central Site Lane is a private lane. Federal funds are not allowed to be used on private property.”
Because of that, Banks wanted the commissioners to consider reclassifying Central Site Lane as a public road. Tustin said if the commissioners did make the road public, the gates on it would have to be removed and it would be open to the public. He suggested the commissioners meet with Banks to discuss the Maryland Delaware Railroad plans.
Bunting said the railroad crossed other private lanes and he did not believe the county should open Central Site Lane to the public. Commissioner Ted Elder asked about the possibility of opening just the portion of the lane that contains the railroad crossing to the public. Tustin cautioned against that.
“You’re opening up that entire stretch from 113 to the railroad tracks to the public,” he said.
When asked about the issues associated with opening the road, Tustin said the county would have to cover maintenance and associated costs that are currently covered by an enterprise fund.
“I certainly don’t want the taxpayers on the hook for this,” Commissioner Josh Nordstrom said.
Tustin said the request to make the lane public had come because the railroad was in the process of prioritizing its projects to seek funding.
“The railroad is always looking for federal funds,” he said. “Historically they’ve always had somebody else pay for their improvements.”
The commissioners voted unanimously to keep Central Site Lane private.