Angels on Track Honors Hale for His Dedication to Keeping Crossings Safe

Mr. Thrifty

April 30, 2008


Ed Hale
Photo By Kimberly Lewis

Vicky Moore, a trustee with the Angels on Track Foundation, recognizes Edward Hale, a Carroll County Sheriff's deputy, for his commitment to keeping railroad crossings safe.

The Angels on Track Foundation honored Carroll County Sheriff Deputy Edward Hale April 24, at the sheriff's office for his "dedication to identifying hazards at railroad crossings."

Hale was presented with a safety award from Vicky Moore, a trustee for the Angels on Track Foundation, for his enforcement of a state ordinance requiring railroads to keep crossings clear of vegetation to allow drivers a clear view of any oncoming trains. Hale was commended for his "personal commitment to ensure all railroad crossings in Carroll and surrounding counties are clear of sight obstructions in accordance to Ohio Revised Code. ... The Angels on Track Foundation recognizes Deputy Edward Hale's work to prevent future accidents and fatalities at dangerous sight-obstructed railroad crossings."

"I have no issues with trains and railroads as a person; however, when a section of the Ohio Revised Code and the safety of the public was hindered at that one crossing, I felt that as a sworn law-enforcement officer, the Ohio Revised Code 4955.36 law needed to be enforced," said Hale.

That crossing was "an accident waiting to happen." That was how a concerned citizen described a dangerous Wheeling and Lake Erie railroad crossing at the intersection of state Route 39 and Crane Road in Sherrodsville in July 2006.

According to Hale, a concerned citizen pointed out the weeds, trees and bushes near the crossing and that "it is hard to see down the rail line when stopped at the white stop bar." Hale drove up to the stop bar and discovered the view of the rail line was indeed hindered by the trees and bushes.

"When you move forward pass the white stop bar and look to your right side, then you can obtain a clear view of the entire area. At this point however you are now in what is known as 'the dead zone,' and that is when you are between the white stop bar and the nearest rail. This crossing is a marked crossing with all the required lights, signs, and crossing gates, and is operated by the Wheeling Lake Erie Railway."

After speaking with Tom Cottis of the Carroll County Emergency Management Agency and obtaining an aerial photo of the Wheeling Lake Erie Railway crossing in the village of Sherrodsville and a copy of the plat map of the same area, Hale contacted Wheeling and Lake Erie Railway and the Public Utilities Commission.

"As a result of Deputy Hale's efforts, W&LE sent a maintenance crew to remove weeds and vegetation, in addition to a large tree, that was blocking motorists from seeing down the tracks," said Moore. "Even though this crossing was equipped with gates, in the event they malfunctioned or didn't activate, a driver needs to be able to see down the tracks for an oncoming train."

"Ohio is one of very few states that have legislation addressing vegetation or sight distance clearances for public safety," Moore said. "All the more reason for the law to be followed by railroad companies operating in Ohio. They also need to keep their rights-of-way cleared on a regular basis, not just clearing after a collision or following a complaint. There are no fines for non-compliance, thus no incentive for railroad companies to follow the law. Lawmakers need to support large fines."

In Ohio, about 44 percent of public crossings have "crossbucks," black letters in an "X" spelling railroad crossing. Only about 36 percent of public crossings have automated gates. Private crossings often have no protective and/or warning devices. Only approximately 27 percent of public crossings in the U.S. are gated.

The foundation recently added a section, "Call to Action, Fill Out A Dangerous Crossing Report (DCR)," where citizens from Ohio can report hazards at railroad crossings for dangers such as sight obstructions, blocked crossings, activation failures, false activations, in addition to other existing dangers at crossings. State agencies are paying attention to these reports and are using them to identify crossings for gate installations and addressing crossing concerns.



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