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The Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) recently authorized construction of grade-crossing improvement projects in Ashland, Butler, Champaign, Cuyahoga, Hamilton, Seneca and Wayne counties.Railroads involved in the projects are the Northern Ohio & Western Railway (NOW), Norfolk Southern Railway, Ashland Railway (AR), Cleveland Commercial Railroad (CC), Indiana & Ohio Railway (IO) and CSX, according to a commission press release.In Ashland County, AR will install lights and gates at the Township Road 1455 grade crossing and State Route 96 grade crossing. CSX will install traffic pre-emption gates at the Chestnut Street grade crossing in Oxford, Butler County.In Champaign County, IO will install lights and gates at the North Hampton-Donnelsville Road crossing in Jackson Township. The crossing project will follow a separate surface reconstruction project.
CC will remove the existing pedestrian crossing gate, repair sidewalks and install a new crossing surface at the Lee Road crossing in Cleveland, which is in Cuyahoga County.NS will install lights and gates at the 66th Street crossing in Hamilton County. That project must be completed by Jan. 18, 2019.In Seneca County, NOW will install lights and gates at the County Road 11 grade crossing.AR also will install lights and gates at the State Route 301 grade crossing in Wayne County.All projects — except for Hamilton County's — are to be completed by July 18, 2018. Federal funding for the projects is provided through the Ohio Rail Development Commission. To increase public safety, local governments may seek funding from the PUCO for the cost of safety improvements such as rumble strips, illumination, improved signage or other enhancements at project locations. Funding comes from the State Grade Crossing Safety Fund and may not exceed $5,000 per project.PUCO evaluates Ohio's public grade crossings to determine if they need active warning signals. Since the commission began its evaluations, the annual number of train-motor vehicle crashes in Ohio has decreased from 123 in 2001 to 64 in 2016.