There are three paragraphs I want to restate:
Unlike Winter Haven, which has enthusiastically embraced the project and stands to gain from the economic windfall CSX could bring to Polk County, Lakeland’s chamber and city officials have carefully worded their responses regarding any future congestion or noise.
The predicted increase in trains is tied to the completion of a deal CSX has with the state for the sale of 61 miles of track, which will be used for commuter service in the Orlando area, according to CSX spokesman Sease. The sale will prompt a shift in freight traffic from one CSX route to another, putting more trains on the track that goes through downtown Lakeland.
Orlando benefits. Winter Haven benefits. Lakeland pays. This is just an example of how cities often seem to work against each other. However, it’s more that city officials have to work for what is best for their citizens. It would be nice if Winter Haven and Orlando would kick in a bit to help the towns that don’t benefit. I’m sure Orlando and Winter Haven wouldn’t do that. Their citizens would be up in arms. We would too.
CSX knows they have cities over a barrel. Years ago railroad companies got sweet deals to build the tracks, and now they “own” the towns they travel through. You should see the hoops a traffic department has to run through just to alter or repair a crossing.
Sease said one possibility is a “quiet zone” that can be applied for through the Federal Railroad Administration. At these rail crossings, train operators don’t need to blow their horns, but this requires costly warning devices and barriers that effectively seal off crossings to cars and trucks as trains approach. He did not know the total costs.
This story is just starting.