A railroad crossing where a Galion boy died in a March car-train collision will get a lights and gate upgrade.
Washington Township trustees met Tuesday with officials from PUCO and CSX to make the agreement, according to Ohio Rail Development Public Information Officer Julianne Kaercher, whose organization was also represented at the meeting.
Gage Berry, 9, died after a Dodge Caravan he was riding in on Morrow County Road 32, south of the Crawford County Line and east of the Marion County line in Washington Township about 8:40 a.m. was struck by a westbound CSX train at the crossing, according to reports. Officials said Gage, who was wearing a seat belt, was pronounced dead at the scene. His father, Benjamin, who was driving the vehicle, survived the crash and wasn’t charged.
“A diagnostic survey was done there and it was decided an upgrade was needed,” Kaercher said, adding the work is slated to be complete in months.
Washington Township trustee William Creswell said the groups have met several times in the last few years where the township pushed for the work to be done.
“It’s a relief, but it’s a shame that you have to have a tragedy to move things up,” he said. “There is no reason why railroad crossings shouldn’t have a gate.”
According to records from the Ohio Rail Development Commission, there was a train-car crash at the crossing in October of 2007, in which no injuries were reported. In April of 1987, there was a crash with two fatalities.
In addition to the change in Morrow County, ODOT and the Ohio Rail Development Commission reviewed nearly 2,000 crossings with yield signs as a result of a change in state law. About 1,000 of the crossings will get stop signs, which replace yield signs already at the crossings.
According to ODOT, 32 crossings will get stop signs in Crawford County, ten in Knox County, 12 in Morrow County and 22 in Richland County.
“This change will reinforce driver behaviors of being safe and cautious around railroad tracks; to stop, look both ways, and proceed across with caution,” Kaercher said.
In 2013, the Ohio General Assembly included a provision in the state budget bill that required stop signs at certain railroad crossings, replacing existing yield signs. The intention behind the change in law is to increase safety for drivers and passengers.
Pugh is the Group Content Editor for the Galion Inquirer, Bellville Star, Morrow County Sentinel and Knox County Citizen. You can reach him at [email protected] and on Twitter at @pughcivitas. Information from an ODOT press release was used in this story.