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Lorain woman says railroad's cleanup ruined her lawn


LORAIN — Casey Jones, you better watch your weeds.

Homeowner Sandra Gray, who lives next to Norfolk Southern railroad tracks at 507 Euclid Ave., said employees from the railroad company ruined her lawn by spraying weed killer by the tracks. Gray, 70, said she moved into her home in 1967 and hasn’t had problems with the railroad in the past.

Gray said she has been taking care of the lawn since her husband, Garrett Gray, died in 2008. Gray — who said her husband paid people to mow the lawn — seeded the lawn last summer and said it looked good this spring.

“I was so proud of myself,” Gray said Tuesday as she stood by an approximately 30-yard-long, 4-foot-wide patch of dead lawn in the south side of her backyard. “They came without my knowledge and they just sprayed the heck out if it.”

The dead grass runs east to west, parallel to the fence abutting Gray’s property, and includes about 15 yards of front lawn. Gray said heavy rain over the last week has swamped the backyard due to the dead grass.

Gray said she discovered the dead grass May 18 and noticed that weeds on the other side of the fence were dead. Gray said a railroad employee she called told her the spraying was done May 10, but she got the runaround when she asked about restitution.

Gray said she also complained about branches and trash piled up against the fence. Compared with some blighted areas of Lorain, the amount of trash is relatively small, but Gray said it would be a housing code violation if it were on her property and said the railroad should clean it up.

Dave Pidgeon, a company spokesman, on Wednesday told The Chronicle-Telegram that Gray should call him. Pidgeon said he would refer Gray to Norfolk Southern’s claims department concerning the grass. He said Norfolk needs to remove weeds to make sure engineers can see where they’re going.

Regarding the trash, Pidgeon said the company tries to keep its properties clean, but it’s not easy. Trespassers sometimes litter on Norfolk Southern properties and the $11 billion railroad has approximately 20,000 miles of tracks in 22 states, including Ohio, to maintain.

“The sheer size of it means that we are in scores of communities, and it’s a challenge for us, no doubt,” he said.

Contact Evan Goodenow at 329-7129 or

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