For informational/historical purposes only.

N E W S W I R E

Ohio Department of Transportation Internet News Release

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: February 17, 2000
from:
OFFICE OF THE GOVERNOR
BOB TAFT
OFFICE OF COMMUNICATIONS

GOVERNOR ANNOUNCES ODOTs RAIL CROSSING SAFETY INITIATIVE

NORTHWOOD -- Today, Governor Bob Taft, Senator Jeffrey Armbruster (R - North Ridgeville) and Ohio Department of Transportation (ODOT) Director Gordon Proctor announced ODOTs rail crossing safety initiative. The $200 million, 10-year program will provide railroad grade separations to communities most affected by increased train traffic as a result of the recent acquisition of Conrail by the Norfolk Southern Corporation and CSX Transportation.

"I am deeply concerned about the safety of our citizens who live, work and attend schools near these rail lines," said Taft. "This is more than an inconvenience for our citizens, its a real threat to their health and well-being."

As part of this initiative, each project will be ranked and selected for funding by a subcommittee of the ODOTs Transportation Review Advisory Council (TRAC).

"The development of the TRAC has enabled the department to effectively select and rank major construction projects," said Proctor. "This practice will be continued through the rail crossing safety initiative. Projects which warrant immediate attention will receive priority status."

At the direction of the Ohio General Assembly, the Ohio Rail Development Commission, the Public Utilities Commission and the Ohio Emergency Management Agency surveyed communities with at-grade crossings. Through this process, communities identified 252 at-grade crossings that need further review.

"While Ohio has continually improved its safety record involving vehicle/train collisions, the problems caused by trains blocking crossings has been increasing," said Taft. "With the completion of these projects we will not only address existing safety concerns, but increase traffic mobility and promote economic development in affected communities."

Nearly 60 percent of funding for this initiative will be provided by ODOT. In some cases, railroad funds may be pooled with TRAC funds to provide a comprehensive community freight solution. Additional funds will be sought from the Ohio legislature, railroads, local governments, as well as the federal government. The first set of projects will receive funding in 2001.

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