Changes could be coming to the Main Street railroad crossing in Swanton. Village Administrator Rosanna Hoelzle outlined the proposed recommendations at a recent Village Council meeting.
Members of the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO), Ohio Rail Commission, Norfolk Southern, Swanton Local Schools, and the Village of Swanton met at the crossing for a diagnostic review on May 3. The review was requested by Swanton Local Schools due to line of sight issues at the crossing, which led to a gate coming down onto a bus.
Out of this review came several recommendations for improvements related to the Main Street crossing.
“You may see some changes down the road,” said Hoelzle. “Some of it is something that the village will potentially have to do, but most of it is something that Norfolk Southern would have to do.”
The biggest issue, which is also the issue which led to crossing gate coming down onto the school bus, was among those recommended for improvement. There is a small silver building to the southwest of the crossing that is known as a bungalow.
“The buses have to go so far because they can’t see past the bungalow,” said Hoelzle. “So Norfolk Southern, they talked among themselves, and the PUCO recommended that the gates be moved closer to the tracks.”
That change should improve the line of sight for buses as they stop at the crossing.
It was recommended that the pedestrian gates at the crossing be removed. The Rail Commission and PUCO said the gates do not do much because they are not on both sides of the tracks and pedestrians could walk around them.
Another recommendation for Norfolk Southern is the installation of LED lights.
Hoelzle added that these changes would most likely occur in 2020 at the earliest.
The village has already remedied one issue. Trees in front of Switchback Crossing Cafe just south of the tracks were blocking the line of site for the warning lights. They have been trimmed.
Also, it was recommended that the Ohio Department of Transportation install a sign on the northbound side of Main Street warning of the upcoming crossing. “Currently, there is no advance warning sign, no railroad crossing sign, going northbound. There’s one going southbound, but not one going northbound,” Hoelzle said.