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Thursday, May 27, 2010

Medina, Ohio, officials consider PUCO proposal for railroad upgrades

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The Public Utilities Commission of Ohio recently offered to pay, using grant funds, a portion of Medina's share of an upcoming railroad upgrade project if the city agreed to used any saved money to install new gates and signal lights at crossings on Lafayette and Ryan roads, the Medina Sun reports.

"In theory, it is to give us two additional gates and flashers without having to spend any additional dollars," Medina Engineer Patrick Patton said.

In February, Medina entered into an agreement with four other entities - the PUCO, the Ohio Rail Development Commission, Northeast Ohio Areawide Coordinating Agency, and Wheeling & Lake Erie Railway- for railroad upgrade throughout the city.

"Those we already committed to," Patton said. "This project would add two."

The five entities will combine to fund railroad surface upgrades at S. Prospect Street, Medina Street, S. Huntington Street, S. Elmwood Street and W. Smith Road and also add gates and flashing signals at several other crossings. Medina was slotted to pay $773,348. The total combined cost of the project was approximately $2.08 million.

Construction on that project will begin in the fall, Patton said.

PUCO would pay for the installations at Medina Street and S. Elmwood using rail improvement funds to pay Medina's portion. The funds are only available until June 30.

City officials must determine if the addition of gates and flashers at Lafayette and Ryan would cost more than the estimated amount that the PUCO offered to pay. In other words, is it a deal for city or not?

"Financially, if it works out, I think it's a good deal," Patton said.

Medina city council will decide on the PUCO proposal at its June 14 meeting.

 At the request of Medina officials, the PUCO also conducted a study on the railroad crossing at Guilford Boulevard.

"We had some concern about safety there," Patton said.

The PUCO determined that, due to the high amount of vehicle traffic, proximity to the city park and pedestrian traffic near the crossing, Medina would need to install gates and flashers at the crossing site.

The installations will cost approximately $145,000, and Medina will pay an estimated $45,600 of that total. WLE will pay 10 percent of the cost, approximately $14,500 and the PUCO will fund the remaining amount, around $84,825.

"I appreciate you pursuing that crossing," Ward 3 council representative Mark Kolesar said to Patton. "You've heard me before, wanting to get gates at that crossing."


City council must approve the project before any work can be done.