PUCO approves upgrade of rail crossings


COLUMBUS– The Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) has approved construction authorization from the Ohio Rail Development Commission (ORDC) directing Norfolk Sothern Railway (NS), Wheeling and Lake Erie Railway (WE) and CSX Transportation (CSX) to make installations and upgrades at six rail crossings in Allen, Butler, Crawford, Jefferson and Scioto counties.

NS is to make the following installations and upgrades:

· Install lights and gates at the Fourteenth Street grade crossing in the city of Portsmouth by Jan. 17, 2021.

· Install lights and gates at the Spring Lane/Noel Avenue grade crossing in the city of Portsmouth, by Jan. 17, 2021.

· Install lights and gates and expand the crossing surface at the Jefferson Street/State Route 103 grade crossing in the village of Bluffton, Allen County, by July 17, 2020.

· Install flashing lights, bells, sidelights and curbing at the Penn Street/Township Road 1383 grade crossing in Wells Township, Jefferson County, by July 17, 2020.

WE is to install cantilevered lights and gates at the Kibler Street/State Route 602 grade crossing in the village of New Washington, Crawford County, by April 17, 2020.

CSX is to install lights, gates, sidelights and cantilevers at the Front Street grade crossing in the city of Hamilton, Butler County, by April 17, 2020.

Federal funding will be provided for these projects.

To increase public safety during the construction of the projects, local governments may seek funding from the PUCO for the cost of safety improvements such as rumble strips, illumination, improved signage or other enhancements at the project locations. Funding for such improvements comes from the State Grade Crossing Safety Fund and may not exceed $5,000 per project.

The PUCO is responsible for evaluating Ohio’s public grade crossings to determine the need for installing active warning devices. Since the PUCO began implementing these evaluations, the annual number of train-motor vehicle crashes in Ohio has decreased significantly, from 356 in 1990 to 66 in 2018.

The Ohio Rail Hotline, at (866) 814-RAIL (7245), provides Ohioans with a toll-free resource for all railroad crossing questions. For more information regarding these crossings, access the Ohio railroad information system website at http://gradecrossings.puco.ohio.gov/.