Crossing Complaint



Harrison News-Herald Staff Writer

COMPLAINTS ARE surfacing again about overgrowth of brush and trees at a railroad crossing in Sherrodsville and authorities are awaiting action from Wheeling & Lake Erie Railway.

Deputy Edward Hale of the Carroll County Sheriff’s Office submitted certified letters to the railroad company and the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio late last month but said no answer had yet been given regarding a dangerous situation. The problem lies with an abundance of vegetation at one crossing on Crane Road and Ohio 39, also known as Roswell Road. The stretch is along a 50-foot right-of-way owned by the Brewster-based company and Hale said the brush stands around five feet tall.

It is exactly a year ago that Hale sought similar rectification at the site and contacted local media and the Angels on Track Foundation. The clean-up work eventually occurred, but Hale said the growth has since returned. The deputy filed a report on June 21 and last reviewed the spot on June 28, saying nothing had been done on the interim.

“At this time the railroad property is showing that a large section is once again grown with weeds, trees and bushes, all vegetation that should have been removed this spring before it had the chance to grow,” he noted in his report. “This area needs a large amount of vegetation removal requiring for trees to be cut and weeds to be destroyed.”

He added that it would be “impossible’ for motorists traveling eastbound on Ohio 39 to view the rail line and determine if a train were approaching.

“There are grade crossing lights along with a crossing gate. In the past this crossing has been known for the lights to activate when no train was approaching. The main safety of the crossing is …a chance the lights and gates may not operate when a train approaches. With the grown up vegetation it would be impossible for a motorist to see the train in time.”

Further concerns were that a motorist could only view an oncoming train in the dead zone, or the area between the white stop bar and nearest rail. By that time, he said it would be too late to stop or cross. Although no crashes have been reported at the scene, Hale said he hopes one will never happen.

Hale said he is determined to enforce state codes to deter fatalities. Ohio Revised Code section 4955.36 states that every railroad company shall destroy or remove plants, trees, brush or other obstructive vegetation upon its right of way at each intersection with a public roadway or highway, for a distance of 600 feet or a reasonable safe distance from the roadway of such public road or highway as shall be determined by the public utilities commission. If a violator does not clear the area within 10 days, the township, municipality or county could clean the site and recover the cost from the company. Should the amount go unpaid after 30 days, officials could seek recompense through tax assessments.

“The railroads are required to check their gates, lights and other equipment once a week and to keep it documented. My concern is that the railroads shall also be checking the vegetation and removing it at the same time," he stated. "Concern and safety should be taken at all railroad crossings and this crossing needs attention once more.”

William Callison, president of W&LE, told the News-Herald on Monday that a representative would be inspecting the area.




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