Letter to Editor
Canton Repository
June 26, 2002


As a Stark County resident and mother of a victim of a preventable railroad tragedy, I must say that Norfolk Southern Corp. spokesman Rudy Husband’s comments (June 14, “State to install warning lights and gates at site of three deaths”) are blatantly false. “There was nothing we could have done to prevent it,” he said.

Ohio has approximately 9,600 crossings, not 6,300 as reported. About 43 percent of Ohio’s 6,400-plus public crossings are marked with (minimal) information signs — crossbucks or Buckeye crossbucks. Crossbucks do not warn if a train is coming or protect motorists. This was the situation at the triple fatality in New Westville.

Gates and lights save lives! Based on traffic volume, gates are 80 percent to 90 percent more effective than crossbucks and stop signs. Railroads can determine and fund crossing safety needs but historically wait for taxpayer funding to install protection devices at dangerous crossings. Under the federal program, they are reimbursed 100 percent and are exempt from liability; under state programs, they have a 10 percent voluntary contribution. Since gates and lights prevent deaths and injuries, why aren’t they pushing for maximum protection at all crossings?

Railroads — private companies funded with public dollars — have a shared responsibility for ensuring all crossings have up-to-date technology in protection devices. Maintaining rights-of-way, removing sight obstructions, installing reflectorized material on railcars and ensuring safety equipment works properly can be added to Mr. Husband’s list of things to do.

Let’s not forget the July 1, 2001, tragedy in Williams County where five were killed. Same situation as in New Westville — no protection devices, crossbucks only, sight obstructions, state investigates and decides gates and lights are warranted. Too little too late for families who have lost a loved one.

Trustee, Angels on Track Foundation


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