SYCAMORE — The state of Ohio will add a gate and new lights at a railroad crossing in the village of Sycamore where a woman was killed this summer.
Representatives from Wheeling and Lake Erie Railway and the Ohio Rail Development Commission met with village officials Friday morning at the site of the crash on Ohio 67. Wheeling and Lake Erie Railway is the company that owns the railroad.
“We’re looking to improve safety for the traveling motorists and also the pedestrians that are out here,” said Tod Darfus, a grade crossing specialist and project manager with the Ohio Rail Development Commission. “We will be installing new lights and gates at no cost to the village. It’s a state program through the federal highway tax.
“In 12 months from now, you’ll be seeing a new set of lights and gates,” he added.
Shelly A. Cleveland, of Republic, was killed July 24 when a train slammed into her car while she was attempting to cross the tracks. She was 41 years old.
“Anytime we have a fatality in the state of Ohio, that takes the ranking of the particular crossing and moves it to the top of the list,” Darfus said. “So, out of the 6,000-plus public crossings, this one’s ranking probably in the top 100 after this fatality.”
A woman answering the phone at the Ohio Public Utilities Commission Rail Division office Friday afternoon said the accident that killed Cleveland is the only fatal crash at the crossing on record.
Gates will be placed 15 feet away from the railroad tracks to stop traffic approaching from both directions. New automatic flashing lights and bells also will be added. Railroad officials said the new technology will detect a train that is 2,000 feet away from the crossing and activate the gates, lights and bell. With homes located near the tracks, the bell only will sound until the gates are in a horizontal position.
Darfus estimates the project will cost between $200,00 and $250,000.
The village will paint stop bars on the street to direct traffic approaching the railroad tracks to stop. The village also will trim trees near the tracks that may impede the view of drivers, especially those in semi trucks.
“Anything that helps the people who travel through the village is a good thing,” Sycamore Village Solicitor Jim Gucker said.
By CHANDA NEELY