Without any regular train traffic foreseen in the immediate future, school bus and fuel truck drivers won't have to stop regardless every time they reach one of the crossings in Hawley or at White Mills.
On Thursday, November 7, Ron Hull, Civil Engineer for the Public Utilities Commission (PUC) did a site inspection at the Route 6 crossing in Hawley, and said it made sense to lift the requirement to stop at the tracks.
Wallenpaupack Area School District made the request for a waiver. Candice Watson, who is the District Transportation Coordinator. said that 15 of their school buses pass through Hawley every school day. Each time they have to stop, and this gets particularly inconvenient every afternoon as they travel in a line up Main Avenue, snarling traffic as they take their turn stopping.
Each time a bus stops, the driver must put on flashers and open the door to listen in case a train is coming.
There hasn't been trains moving on the Stourbridge Railroad since December 2011 when the last time a Chamber of Commerce rail excursion was held. With a lack of anticipated freight business, the owner of the rail line between Honesdale and Lackawaxen then put the line up for sale.
Eastern Propane also stands to benefit from not needing to stop. Randy Cousins, Service Manager of the company location in Cromwelltown, right outside Hawley, said that they have about 15 trucks that carry fuel product and are required to stop. He said not having to stop every time will help move everything quicker.
Hull said that the waiver will apply to the three crossings in Hawley- at Welwood Avenue, Church Street and Route 6, and the White Mills Road crossing in White Mills.
The waiver was already granted in Honesdale Borough after Councilman Bob Jennings made the suggestion. Jennings later contacted Candice Watson with information about who to contact.
Joseph Strok Jr., representing PennDOT, and Richard Campana of Morristown & Erie Railroad were also at the field inspection. Signs announcing the waiver were already in place on Route 6, but officially, the waiver is in effect once the PUC sends out a docket to the railroad and governmental entities.
Morristown & Erie is still the operating rights holder for the Stourbridge Railroad, Campana stated, although there hasn't been any train traffic. He said that there still could be infrequent use of the rails, including maintenance vehicles or a potential freight delivery. In the latter case, he said that flag men would stop traffic. The waiver can be lifted if regular train traffic resumes.
The School District is paying for the signs for Welwood Avenue and Church Street, and the Borough agreed to install them, Watson said. PennDOT takes care of the signs at the state road crossings.