DADE CITY — Railroad giant CSX has signed on as a sponsor of the annual Kumquat Festival, Dade City's biggest event, in the wake of two train stoppages this summer that blocked intersections and snarled traffic.
"CSX Transportation is committed to working beyond our rails with the communities we serve. Our support of the Greater Dade City Chamber of Commerce and the Annual Kumquat Festival demonstrates our recognition of the importance of local partnerships, corporate stewardship and the vibrant economic growth of Pasco County," Bob O'Malley, resident vice president, Florida State Government and Community Affairs for CSX, said in a news release.
O'Malley appeared before the city commission Aug. 26 apologizing for the train stoppages, which infuriated city officials and residents.
On July 11, a CSX crew stopped a train to make a federally mandated shift change, blocking several intersections on the city's east side for six hours. It happened again Aug. 19 for 90 minutes, causing public safety officials to scramble to handle traffic and residents cut off by the trains.
O'Malley told the commission two weeks ago that awareness of the problem was "elevated" to the highest levels of the company and every dispatcher dealing with Florida railroads was ordered not to stop a train in the city. Instead, crew shift changes will be done north or south of Dade City.
The Kumquat Festival, which draws tens of thousands of people, is scheduled Jan. 31.