Casho Mill Road underpass

City and state officials oppose CSX’s proposal to close the Casho Mill Road underpass.

The Delaware Department of Transportation has responded to CSX’s proposal to close the Casho Mill Road underpass, telling the railroad agency that state and city officials remain steadfastly opposed to the closure.

“Closure of this underpass would likely cause significant traffic congestion issues throughout the west side of Newark, not to mention increases in emergency service response times. This is one of the few crossings of the CSX rail line on the west side of Newark,” DelDOT Secretary Jennifer Cohan wrote in a letter to CSX last week, the agency’s first communication to CSX regarding the proposal.

Cohan also pushed back against CSX’s assertion that Casho Mill Road has a “low volume” of vehicular traffic.

“We do not agree with that statement,” she wrote. “The average daily traffic volume on Casho Mill Road is over 11,000 vehicles per day.”

Cohan added that DelDOT shares CSX’s concern about the high number of bridge strikes on Casho Mill Road. The underpass is the most-struck bridge in the state, with 61 crashes there since 2005.

“Therefore, DelDOT is working on a new round of even more numerous, larger and more emphatic warning signs and beacons,” Cohan wrote.

She called on CSX to work with DelDOT to improve the safety of the crossing rather than try to close it.

“We propose to work with CSX to share in funding improvements to improve both the horizontal and vertical clearance issues present at this crossing,” Cohan wrote. “We welcome continued coordination and communication to improve the safety for all users.”

Meanwhile, six Newark-area state legislators recently sent a letter to DelDOT requesting that the agency install an over-height warning system consisting of cans, chains or tubes that would hang over Casho Mill Road at the same height as the underpass.

It would be modeled after a similar system used at the Holland Tunnel in New York.

“Our research and discussions with workers at the NYC Port Authority who work with such structures have shown us the effectiveness an over-height system can have,” the legislators wrote. “We believe that an over-height system combined with additional road signs will result in a significant drop in bridge crashes at the Casho Mill Road underpass.”

City council is expected to pass a resolution calling for the over-height system next week.

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