Rail Safety

Bibb Administration Cracks Down on Railroads, Issues Violation Notices for Crumbling Bridges and Concrete Hazards

Friday, Sep 22, 2023

Mayor Bibb’s administration has issued Violation Notices to Norfolk Southern and CSX railways for crumbling concrete and debris that has littered Cleveland’s streets, posing potential dangers to residents. Many of these bridges are also so covered with graffiti and overgrown with weeds that they would be cited as code violations if owned by one of our neighbors or residents. Cleveland does not have separate rules for railways and separate rules for homeowners.

If the violations are not corrected by September 13, 2023, the railroads may be prosecuted for first-degree misdemeanors. Mayor Bibb and Cleveland City Council have vowed to hold the railroads and all out-of-state investors accountable to our residents. 

Mayor Bibb’s aggressive enforcement of code violations grows out investigations by the Mayor’s Office for Capital Projects as well as important hearings held by Cleveland City Council.  On March 21, in coordination with U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown and Congresswoman Shontel Brown, Cleveland Councilwoman Jenny Spencer of Ward 15 chaired a rail safety informational hearing regarding the dangers of crumbling railroad bridges in Cleveland. Councilwoman Spencer also worked with Ward 7 Councilwoman Stephanie Howse to highlight the dangers posed by these bridges. 

“Our administration is committed to holding the railroads and other out-of-state investors accountable for the condition of their infrastructure,” said Mayor Bibb. “These violations are not only unsightly but are a danger to the people of Cleveland.  We expect the falling concrete, high weeds, graffiti, and other issues to be fixed.  Our dedicated legal team is keeping their foot on the gas until the work is done.”

Mayor Bibb’s office reviewed 99 railway bridges in Cleveland and found that 23 have critical failings, including abutments, retaining walls, concrete column disintegration, and other serious problems.

The City submitted its report directly to the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO), the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) and the railroad companies.  As promised, the notices of violations are the next step in the City’s enforcement program to use every tool in the toolbox. 

The Bibb Administration has continued to ramp up its code enforcement by filing lead affidavits of fact for the first time in history; seeking receiverships to take control away from out-of-state landlords; conducting a comprehensive and proactive city-wide building survey, and hiring criminal prosecutors who will focus on lead-hazard enforcement.    

These violation notices were made possible by the work of Building & Housing Director Sally Martin O’Toole, Chief Eric Elmi and the Mayor’s Office of Capital Projects.

Examples of the violations include debris falling onto sidewalks and walkways – violations that no homeowner would be allowed.