April 16, 2000

By: Carol Harper-Staff Writer

Norwalk- Research for railroad crossing signal improvements ends in August if the Huron County group gathering data stays on schedule.

"We want to move right along on it," Huron County Commissioner Terry Boose said.

About 30 volunteers, assigned to groups of three, document crossings by taking eight to 10 photographs per crossing. They note characteristics such as signals, crossbucks, speed limit, brush, trees and other obstructions to view, and whether the tracks are built higher than the roadway.

The railroad companies agreed to provide accurate train counts, and the country engineer's office began traffic counts, Huron County Emergency Management Agency Director Bill Ommert said.

Also, the group hopes to arrange for aerial photographs of each crossing, said Ommert.

After documenting the 123 railroad crossings in the county, the group prioritizes crossings based on the need for safety improvements, Ommert said.

This process normally takes 12-18 months, according to the Angels on Track Foundation founders. However, Huron County started in February and aims to finish in August. By September, the group hoes to apply for funding for crossing improvements through the Ohio Rail Development Commission, the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio, and the Angels on Track Foundation.

"It's a very aggressive schedule," Ommert said. "We're trying to avoid a tragedy before it happens. When you're talking 30 volunteers, that's a lot of people who care. We're very fortunate in Huron County."


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