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Medina railroad upgrades planned; could horns go silent?

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Medina, Ohio, will upgrade several railroad crossing signals and surfaces within city limits in order to meet recently changed state and federal safety regulations. In addition, officials have discussed the possibility of transforming the area, which is in the city's southern portion, into a railroad quiet zone, the Medina Sun reports.

The upgrade project will be
done in two separate parts with funding shared by five different entities – the
Ohio Rail Development Commission, Northeast Ohio Areawide Coordinating Agency,
Public Utilities Commission of Ohio, Wheeling & Lake Erie Railway and city
of Medina.

On Feb. 8, Medina City
Council approved, at its Finance Committee meeting, a memorandum of
understanding with the railroad to construct new crossing surfaces at five
locations – S. Elmwood Street, W. Smith Road, S. Huntington Street, S. Prospect
Street and Medina Street. Medina will pay $204,461 for this portion of the
project, splitting the total cost, an estimated $340,000, with WLE.

City Council has yet to
approve the second portion of the project, though upgrades are imminent. In
September 2009, the ORDC sent a letter to Medina informing city officials that
several city railroad crossings did not meet standards of the Ohio Manual of
Uniform Traffic Control Devices. Railroad crossings from Broadway Street to
Medina Street needed improved technology that would allow railroad personnel to
earlier activate Medina’s railroad traffic signal system.

Under plans for the second
portion, new gates and flashers would be installed at S. Court Street, W. Smith
Road and Medina Street. The railroad circuitry at seven locations – S.
Broadway, S. Court, S. Elmwood, W. Smith, S. Huntington, S. Prospect and Medina
Street – would also be rewired to allow further advanced notice. In addition,
city officials will activate the signal at W. Smith Road and S. Huntington
Street and replace the signal at W. Smith and S. Elmwood.

For this portion of the project,
ORDC, NOACA, and PUCO will share the costs with Medina, Medina Engineer Patrick
Patton said. In all, Medina will pay approximately $568,887 – a 32.7-percent
breakdown of the $1.74 million total cost for this portion. The project will be
paid for from 108 funds, which can only be used for street and sewer
improvements.

A second phase of this
portion of the project also remains possible, which would invariably bring
additional costs. But Patton emphasized that both projects would enhance the
city’s safety around railways.

"It does provide a safety
advantage above what we have today," Patton said.

City Council also raised
the idea at the Feb. 8 Finance Committee meeting of making Medina a railroad
quiet zone, an area where locomotives cannot use their horns within city
limits.

"What’s the goal along this
corridor?" at-large representative John Coyne asked. "Is it a move towards a
quiet zone, or is it not?"

Council delayed the vote on
the second portion of the project until that question could be answered.

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