Hearing to be held on rail crossing

We’ve all driven over the railroad crossing in the Rushtown area on Ohio 104 and you may have also noticed the crossing has not had a train cross in several years. On Wednesday, the Ohio Department Of Transportation (ODOT) along with the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) will hold a hearing to exempt the crossing from certain state laws.

According to information about the hearing, ODOT has requested an exemption from PUCO to downgrade the Norfolk Southern rail line crossing located on Ohio 104 near Township Road 142 (McDermott-Rushtown Road). The rail line has been out of service for more that 10 years and there currently is no plan to reactivate the line.

“We (ODOT) requested from PUCO that we do a downgrade on the railroad crossing, it’s in a slight curve and there are still polls and pedestal bases for the current signal at the crossing. We feel we can remove those (signals and pedestals) could eliminate a potential safety hazard,” said Kathleen Fuller, ODOT District 9 spokeswoman.

She said a number of people who think the crossing should be exempt, but a hearing is necessary to make it official.

“Norfolk Southern is in agreement with this. In the event the (rail) line would ever be used again, we would put some of the warning devices backup. In stead of having the polls and pedestals there (all of the time), that could be a potential safety hazard, we would remove them and put signs up,” Fuller said.

As apart of the hearing ODOT has proposed, Norfolk Southern may remove existing warning lights and poles, replacing them with cross bucks and yield signs.

Scioto County Engineer Craig Opperman has been working getting this rail crossing downgraded for a number of years.

Opperman said if the plan is approved at the hearing, the crossing would be exempt from current legal requirements for school buses and certain motor vehicles carrying certain hazardous materials to stop at the crossing.

According to released information, the purpose of the hearing is to receive public comments regarding the exemption and downgrade request. During the hearing, ODOT representatives will provide testimony supporting the increased benefit of this downgrade and address these changes with the general public.

Opperman said he’s been in favor of these changes for a number of years and will advocate for them at the hearing.

The hearing will be held Wednesday, May 18, beginning at 1 p.m. at the Scioto County ODOT Highway Maintenance Facility, 9187 U.S. 23 South, Lucasville.

By Wayne Allen

[email protected]

Wayne Allen can be reached at 740-353-3101 ext. 1933 or @WayneAllenPDT on Twitter

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