March 29, 2001

Brian Koeller, Assistant Editor

MALINTA- Dennis and Vicki Moore of Canal Fulton, Ohio, have been on a crusade since March 25, 1995 to make railroad crossings as safe as possible.

That was the day their son, Ryan, and two of his friends were killed in a car-train accident. Since then, the two have set up a foundation to help local governments have lights and gates installed at dangerous intersections

"There is a quota of people that have to be killed before anything can get done (by the state)," Vicki told the members of the Henry County Rail Safety Task Force at its monthly meeting Wednesday.

"It's not a priority until after someone gets killed, and then it's too late," she added.

The Moores have created the Angels on Track Foundation, which works with local governments to provide partial funding for lights and gates at intersections. The foundation provides up to 30% of the local match, not to exceed $40,000, to have the gates and lights installed.

A local task force must be created to study at-grade intersections as part of the requirements to receive funding from the foundation.

"With our program, you, the local people, decide which crossings are dangerous instead of waiting for the state to do it," Vicki said.

"It's up to the local people to take the initiative on this because the railroad is not going to do it," Dennis added. "They don't really want them because then they have to do maintenance on them."

Vicki said crossings with crossbucks-only are not safe, and the only safe crossing is one with gates and lights or an overpass/underpass. However, overpasses can cost millions of dollars.

"The crossbuck is just an informational sign, it just lets you know tracks are there," Vicki said.

The Moores would like to see the railroad companies take greater responsibility for the safety of their crossings. They said shrubbery around railroad crossings needs to be maintained, which is the job of the railroad companies.

"The assumption is always that it's the driver's fault," Vicki said. "But if they can't see the train coming or hear its horn, how can it be the driver's fault?"

"They owe it to us to make their crossings safe," she added. "The railroads do not think public safety is their responsibility. They tell us it's our responsibility to tell them when their gates are malfunctioning.

"They need to patrol their tracks to make sure they're working properly."

The couple somewhat approve of Gov. Bob Taft's $200 million plan to construct rail overpasses in the state, but they say it is not enough.

"It really had to be done because of the merger (of Norfolk Southern and CSX) there are so many trains now," Dennis aid. "But, there should be a lot more money. The state has started an effort for lights and gates, but it needs to do more."

The Moores would also like to see rail cars have reflective tape applied so they can be seen better at night. Vicki said a study was done and found it would cost $80 per car over 10 years to apply the tape.

"It was found not to be cost effective for the railroad companies," Dennis said. "I don't understand why they are looking at it from that point of view."


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