Posts Tagged ‘grade crossing’

Crash that Killed 2 Halts NS Chicago Line Traffic

June 8, 2020

Rail traffic on the Chicago Line of Norfolk Southern was halted for several hours on Sunday afternoon after a grade crossing incident that killed two near Toledo and involved two NS trains.

An Ohio State Highway Patrol spokesman said the two deaths occurred in a pickup truck that drove around a downed crossing gate at the crossing of Holland-Sylvania Road near Angola Road on the Toledo-Springfield Township border.

The pickup was struck by westbound NS train 25N which pushed the truck into the front of eastbound 18M, which was stopped at the time.

The 18M was being led by NS 8104, the Lehigh Valley heritage locomotive.

Police said the pickup truck caught fire after the collision and firefighters were called to extinguish the blaze.

The crash occurred about 1:45 p.m. The 18M was stopped at the scene until 6:30 p.m. and roads in the vicinity remained blocked until 7:15 p.m.

Authorities said debris from the truck was strewn along the right of way.

The victims were not initially identified. Police said the victims died at the scene and alcohol is not thought to have been a factor in the incident.

The truck was headed northbound on Holland-Sylvania before the crash.

Hearing Set on Railroad Grade Crossing Safety

February 1, 2020

A congressional committee plans to hold a hearing on Feb. 5 to discuss railroad grade crossing safety.

The U.S. House Subcommittee on Railroads, Pipelines and Hazardous Materials will meet at 10 a.m. in the Rayburn House Office Building in Washington.

A news release sent out by the committee said the hearing will hear testimony regarding the challenges affecting grade crossing safety, trespassing and suicide incidents, blocked grade crossings, as well as efforts to mitigate safety and community concerns of those issues.

The hearing will be available for viewing via webcast.

PUCO Approves Grade Crossing Projects

December 8, 2019

Three railroads in Ohio will upgrade grade crossing as a result of action taken last week by the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio.

Norfolk Southern will install lights and gates at the County Road 84 crossing in Hancock County by April 4, 2021.

The Wheeling & Lake Erie will upgrade and replace existing lights and gates at the Gilchrist Road crossing in Akron by Sept. 4, 2020.

CSX will install lights and gates and make the approach less steep at the Railroad Street crossing in Milton Center.

The carrier will also close the South Street crossing to vehicles and pedestrians in Milton Center by Dec. 4, 2020.

Federal funding will be provided for the upgrades, although W&LE will share funding responsibility for the Gilchrist Road project, PUCO said in a news release.

Indiana High Court Favors NS in Grade Crossing Case

September 26, 2018

An Indiana court has ruled in favor of Norfolk Southern and against a county that sought to fine the railroad for blocking grade crossings of public streets.

The Indiana Supreme Court in a unanimous ruling  invalidated efforts under a state law to fine railroads that block crossings of public streets for more than 10 minutes.

In its ruling, the court said the state law, which had been adopted in 1972, was a direct regulation of railroads that is preempted by the federal Interstate Commerce Commission Termination Act.

NS was cited by Allen County officials 23 times between December 2014 and December 2015.

Although judges in county courts had ruled in favor of the railroad in those cases, the state appealed to the Indiana high court.

The court said the state might be able to obtain recourse for blocked crossings through the Surface Transportation Board’s Rail Customer and Public Assistance Program.

PUCO OKs NS, W&LE Grade Crossing Projects

August 28, 2018

The Public Utilities Commission of Ohio has approved grade crossing projects involving Norfolk Southern and the Wheeling & Lake Erie.

NS and the W&LE will install active warning devices at public road grade crossings in Yorkville in Jefferson County.

NS also will upgrade to LED lights in Cleveland the East 26th Street grade crossing signals; install new sidelines, upgrade to LED lighting and replace masts at the Main Street grade crossing in London; and upgrade to LED lights at the Stow Road grade crossing in Hudson.

Federal funding will pay for the work with the railroads required to complete the projects by May 22, 2019.

INDOT Taking Applications for Grade Crossing Projects

May 9, 2018

Applications are being accepted by the Indiana Department of Transportation for the LocalTrax matching grant program for grade crossing separations, closures and other safety enhancements at railroad intersections with local roads.

The program has $125 million in state matching funds for eligible projects. The deadline for applications is Aug. 31 with awards expected to be awarded soon thereafter.

Local Trax requires local governments to provide 20 percent of funding for land acquisition and construction. The state will provide the remaining 80 percent.

INDOT Starts Railroad Safety Project Fund

April 4, 2018

The Indiana Department of Transportation is making available $125 million in grants for “high-priority” railroad safety projects.

The grants are being channel through a new program, Local Trax, which will provide state matching funds for Indiana cities, towns and counties interested in pursuing grade separations, crossing closures and other safety enhancements at railroad grade crossings.

Grant applications will be accepted by INDOT between May and August. A local government agency must agree to provide 20 percent of the funding for the project with the state providing the other 80 percent.

INDOT plans to conduct public hearings throughout the state this month to answer questions about the new program.

Funding for Local Trax was appropriated in the state’s long-term road funding legislation signed by Gov. Eric Holcomb last year.

Ex-CN Signal Maintainer Facing Prison Term After Cutting Crossing Wires in Battle Creek, Michigan

January 11, 2018

A former Canadian National signal maintainer is facing a 20-year prison term after he pleaded guilty in a federal court in Michigan to a felony charge of impairing a railroad safety signal by cutting wires at grade crossings in Battle Creek.

Jeffrey Alan Taylor, who lives in the Upper Peninsula, was captured on video cutting the wires during a 2017 visit to the Battle Creek area.

The result was that the crossing gates went down and stayed down even though no train was approaching. That caused a traffic backup.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Davin Reust told the court that it must reject Taylor’s contention that the result of his action was nothing more than an inconvenience for motorists.

“This argument ignores the obvious; removing one of multiple safety systems cannot make the system safer . . .,” Reust wrote in a memorandum to the court. “Taylor’s argument boils down to one that he should not be held accountable for intentionally creating a safety hazard because no catastrophe occurred here.”

The first two wire-cutting incidents occurred in January 2017. After the second incident, the railroad installed hidden surveillance cameras at Battle Creek crossings.

Taylor was captured on video in June after CN received a report of the gates being down.

The video showed him parking his truck near a crossing, walking to the site and using wire cutters to cut signal wires

He was not employed by CN at the time of the wire cutting incidents, but had worked for the railroad between 1994 and 2009.

William Weise, an attorney representing Taylor, said his client accepted full responsibility and did not bear any ill will toward CN. Nor was this an act of terrorism.

Weise contended that Taylor was suffering from undiagnosed depression at the time of the wire-cutting incidents.

Taylor grew up in Richland, Michigan, and was the owner with his wife of a motel in St. Ignace in the Upper Penisula that was struggling financially. The attorney also said that Taylor had been caring for his mother, who died last February.

“Mr. Taylor believed his actions would be a nuisance to the railroad,” Weise said. “This has been an agonizing experience for Mr. Taylor as he has seen the effect this has had on his family and the community around him.”

MDOT to Fund 40 Grade Crossing Projects

December 15, 2017

The Michigan Department of Transportation plans to award $3 million in funding to 40 railroad grade crossing projects.

The funding comes from the 2018 Local Grade Crossing Surface Program. Projects receiving funding were chosen through a competitive process according to criteria established by state law.

MDOT said in news release that the projects range from minor asphalt repairs to installing new track and surface materials.

The agency received 89 applications from road agencies in partnership with 19 railroads.

The annual program offers 60 percent funding for eligible projects, with railroads responsible for the remaining 40 percent of costs. The railroads and their contractors perform the repair work with cooperation for detour routes provided by local road agencies.

MDOT identified the 2018 recipients on its website.

Ohio a Target of DOT Safety Campaign

January 14, 2017

Ohio is one of 20 states being targeted by a U.S. Department of Transportation grade crossing safety advertising campaign aimed at young males.

US DOTDOT has created an advertisement built on the theme of “Stop! Trains Can’t” that urges caution at railroad crossings.

The advertisement is part of a two-year effort by DOT to reduce accidents and fatalities at grade crossings. Partners in the campaign include the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the Federal Railroad Administration.

The campaign was prompted by an increase in railroad crossing fatalities in 2014. Last year 232 people died in grade crossing accidents.

About every three hours a person or vehicle is hit by a train in the United States.

Ohio was chosen for the campaign because it has crossings on the list of the nation’s 15 most dangerous grade crossings and is among the states in which 75 percent of grade crossing accidents occurred in 2015.

DOT will spend $7 million to buy advertising time and space in media outlets to target men aged 18 to 49. Male drivers are involved in nearly 75 percent of all railroad crossing accidents.

Other states that will see the advertisements are California, Illinois, Texas, Louisiana, Indiana, Florida, Georgia, Missouri, New York, North Carolina, South Carolina, Kentucky, Alabama, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Mississippi, New Jersey, Arkansas and Arizona.