Lake Twp.: Blocked rail crossings still a problem

Larry Limpf

Blocked rail crossings in Lake Township – the crossing at Walbridge Road in particular - continue to be a problem for motorists and township emergency vehicles.
Video from a Walbridge Road residential security camera shows that stopped Norfolk Southern trains blocked that crossing 24 times over a recent four-week period – for a total time blocked of more than 202 hours and 45 minutes.
Marvin Burns, who lives near the crossing, has been compiling the video data about the crossing blockages since this past summer and providing it to township officials.
He said the blockages over the four weeks averaged nearly seven hours and 15 minutes a day.
“Over those four weeks, there were eight days that the crossing was blocked over eight hours. Five of these days, Walbridge Road was blocked more than 18 hours, with one day blocked all day. One time, this crossing was blocked for over 66 continuous hours,” Burns said, adding that blockage started about 2:50 a.m. on Feb. 3 and cleared about 9:05 p.m. on Feb. 5.
Walbridge Road is a major east-west artery of the township.
During those four weeks, township fire and EMS vehicles had to detour or were delayed 20 times due to trains, according to figures from the township administration.
In addition to the delays of emergency vehicles, Burns said he has witnessed Lake school buses having to back up from the crossing and turn around.
“I have also seen semi-trucks back up over one-half mile to find a place to turn around. The USPS has also had to find alternative routes to complete their mail delivery many times,” he said.
Burns started monitoring the train traffic at the crossing this past summer when he “got tired of being blocked by trains.”
He’s calculated that since Aug. 16 of last year the Walbridge crossing has been blocked 225 times for a total of more than 795 hours.
Some stopped Norfolk Southern trains have simultaneously blocked crossings at Walbridge, Lemoyne, Bradner, Pemberville, Millbury, Fostoria, Mathews and Ayers roads.
Police Chief Mark Hummer has been in contact with the office of Congressman Bob Latta and Norfolk Southern to discuss the situation.
“It’s obviously not getting any better,” he said last week. “If we could just get them to open the Walbridge Road crossing it would help.”
A bill introduced in the state legislature that would require rail companies to report blocked crossings of more than five minutes to the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio, and sets fines for failing to report blockages, might not be enforceable, according to an analysis by the state’s Legislative Service Commission, which cited a case decided by a federal circuit court.
The court struck down a Michigan statute similar to the Ohio bill, ruling the statute was pre-empted by the Federal Railroad Safety Act.
Blocked crossings can be reported to the Federal Railroad Administration by law enforcement or the public at The site asks users to provide the date, time, duration and location of the blocked crossing.
Burns said last week he’s been inputting information about the Walbridge crossing at the FRA site. Chief Hummer said he also plans to provide data to the site.
An email message left for comment with the Norfolk Southern media relations office wasn’t returned.


The Press

The Press
1550 Woodville Road
Millbury, OH 43447

(419) 836-2221

Email Us

Facebook Twitter

Ohio News Media Association