2013-09-28 / News

Two township railroad crossings to be upgraded

By Scott Rawdon

UNION TOWNSHIP- Two railroad crossings in Union Township will be safer to navigate by next summer.

Union Township Trustee President Rick Black announced Sept. 16 that the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) approved construction authorization for the Columbus & Ohio River Railroad to install mast-mounted flashing lights and roadway gates at the Union Station Road/County Road 135 and Canyon Road/ Township Road 137 railroad crossings.

The railroad will be responsible for completing construction of the upgrades by June 11, 2014. Funding for these upgrades comes from federal funds.

As far as when the construction will take place, “That’s going to be up to the railroad,” said Black, adding that it’s not a township project.

Bill Keys, maintenance of way director for the Columbus & Ohio River Railroad, said neither project is scheduled yet, but he doubts roads will be closed to vehicle traffic during construction.

To increase public safety during the construction, the PUCO will assist the local governments with the cost of improvements such as rumble strips, illumination, improved signage or other safety enhancements at the project locations. Funding for the improvements will come from the State Grade Crossing Safety Fund and will not exceed $5,000.

The PUCO is responsible for evaluating Ohio’s public grade crossings to determine the need for installing active warning devices. The annual number of trainmotor vehicle crashes in Ohio has decreased significantly, from 123 in 2001 to 71 in 2012.

In other township news:

• Black said progress is moving very slowly as Heath, Hebron, Buckeye Lake, and Union and Licking townships, explore forming a regional fire district. “We have to raise money for the feasibility study,” he said. The group hopes a Local Government Innovation Fund grant will fund part of the study. Black said the application is extremely complex to complete. “We’re looking for help with that,” he said. Black isn’t concerned with the slow progress. “For something like this, that’s the way to do it,” he said.

• Black said the township’s new salt bin is structurally complete. The bin must be sealed to protect its structure from corrosion from the salt and landscaping must be completed around it. Township employees will handle both tasks.

Unanticipated hurdles turned the construction of the 40 x 60 foot bin into a nearly two-year project. Quality Excavation and Construction was awarded a $91,800 contract for the construction. Quality’s work has been completed.

Black said trustees are now considering constructing a new township garage at the Union Township Complex, but the project is only in its formative phase. “We have no idea what it’s going to look like,” he said. “We’re only in the dreaming part.”

• Black said all the permits are ready, but he’s not sure when seismic testing will begin in Union Township. “We’re waiting on that,” he said.

Union Township resident Gary Sitler, president of Eleven Eagle Energy Exploration Ltd., told trustees July 15 he specializes in gas and oil exploration and the township “has some interesting prospects.” He plans to conduct some seismic tests to quantify the prospects.

Sitler said the process involves using a thumper truck and recording the resulting vibrations. It was done on Loudon Street outside Granville. “It’s very common stuff,” he said, adding that the vibrations aren’t severe and pose no threat to structures or individuals. Sitler said he’d agree to notify residents before any seismic tests take place.

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