LIMA — Eight area railroad crossings could be safer with an estimated $12,400 in improvements, according to a draft study released by the Lima-Allen County Regional Planning Commission this week.
The eight crossings of the CSX railroad line are between downtown Lima and the border of Allen and Auglaize counties. The good news is all of those crossings already have flashing signals, gates and crossbucks, said Jim Patterson, an engineer with the Lima-Allen County Regional Planning Commission. Still, there were six train-vehicle collisions in the studied area between 2002 and 2011, fortunately with no fatalities.
“What was a little bit surprising to me was that several of these crossings rank at the top of crossings in Allen County and fairly high in the state of Ohio, as far as the federal Railroad Administration’s predictive analysis,” Patterson said. “They’re predicting the safety of crossings, based on traffic volume, traffic speed, train volume and train speed.
“Even though they had devices in place, there were still accidents there.”
The study is available for review business hours at the RPC, 130 W. North St., Lima, or online at j.mp/17Nu98T throughout July.
The RPC makes the recommendations, and local governments are asked to fund for the fixes. The Allen County Engineer’s Office generally makes the fixes shortly after a report is finalized. The railroad itself takes care of its tracks and the crossing itself, while local governments handle the approaches to them.
“Generally speaking, these crossings are in good condition, as far as the pavement goes,” Patterson said. “A couple get a little bit rough, but the pavement’s in good shape. You’ll just bounce up a little bit on them.”
The bulk of the costs belong to replacing existing advance warning signs and pavement markings. For instance, Breese Road’s crossing, which needs about $2,400 in work, has pavement markings warning drivers about the upcoming railroad, but they’re barely visible. Five of the eight crossings need upgraded pavement markings.
The most expensive crossing to correct, at $3,200, is at Eureka Street, according to the report. That crossing needs new pavement markings, upgraded stop bars, no-crossing center lines and about $1,500 worth of work clearing obstructions, such as foliage, trees and other signs in the right-of-way.
Clearing obstructions also drove up the price to correcting problems on St. John’s Road’s intersection, with an estimated total price tag of $2,500.
Still, the remedies aren’t as bad as they could be. Two years ago, the RPC studied CSX’s line from downtown Lima to the Putnam County border. Since many of those 15 intersections didn’t include active signal systems and crossbucks, the estimated cost for improvements then was $274,940, and it included recommendations to close two crossings.
“If you stop to think about it, the train speeds are still pretty high at many of these crossings, and the traffic volume’s high compared to a lot of crossings on the north side of Lima,” Patterson said. “These crossings are doing fairly well.”
You can comment on this story on LimaOhio.com.
Eight CSX crossings with public roadways were studied between the Allen-Auglaize county line and downtown lima. Below are the crossings, from south to north, and the estimated cost for recommended changes:
Hume Road ($750)
Breese Road ($2,400)
Buckeye Road ($300)
Fourth Street ($1,750)
Main Street ($0)
St. Johns Road ($2,500)
Kibby Street ($1,500)
Eureka Street ($3,200)
Study recommends $12,400 to fix Allen County railroad crossings