By Sara Martino
Gloucester City News
The subject of delays in vehicle traffic caused by the crossing of Conrail trains was brought up again by residents who attended the February 13 meeting of Westville Borough Council.
Ever since the shipment of natural gas by-products began to be moved into the idle Sunoco property in West Deptford, motorists have been held up 20 to 30 minutes along both Route 45 and Route 130.
Over a year ago when Sunoco representatives had first presented the idea to the governing body, Councilman Charles Murtaugh asked how many cars would take part in the shipment.
Sunoco representative Kevin Thompson said there would only be 14 cars at first.
“We will start out slowly and then gauge the market to find how much shipment would take place,” he had said.
Shale and other natural gas by-products such as ethane are being shipped in from North Dakota and Western Pennsylvania in many railroad cars to the Route 130 location.
Now, there have been as many as 50 or more cars traveling through the two main highways and motorists try to circumvent the train crossing by making u-turns and trying to go down through streets – only to be held up at the other end.
At one time, the Sunoco Logistics representatives had said it would cost $100 million to build a larger facility at the plant to handle the train movement within the grounds. So far that has not happened.
Some residents asked if Conrail could give a schedule of the trains to the borough so motorists would have some warning of the crossings.
Resident Joyce Lovell asked if some type of warning sign could be erected before reaching the crossings that would say, “Train crossings ahead.”
Murtaugh said Conrail cannot give a schedule, but, “according to Conrail, new crossings and tracks are supposed to be put in to help alleviate the traffic problems.”
Another problem that could occur due to the hold up on the highways is for the Fire Department.
“If the trains are crossing at a time when there is a fire on either side of the tracks, the fire engines would have to go around the Brooklawn Circle to reach the Newbold area,” Murtaugh said.
On another matter, Resident Chris Orlemans asked if there were any solutions yet for the flooding in the borough.
Mayor Russell Welsh said Senator Norcross’s office is working as a liaison between Westville and West Deptford where part of the flooding occurs.
High tides from the Delaware and high storm breaks affect the storm sewers and back up the water into the streets and homes.
Residents came to the council meeting last month seeking help with flooding of their cars, trucks and homes.
NJ Senator Donald Norcross (D-5) and U.S. Congressman Rob Andrews (D-1) are looking into the situation. Some money from FEMA may be warranted for repairs.