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Published: Thursday, 6/14/2007

Closing of Pine St. crossing a possibility

BY CARL RYAN
BLADE STAFF WRITER

Perrysburg is exploring the possibility of closing the CSX crossing on Pine Street and upgrading the Cherry Street and Hickory Street crossings with flashing lights and gates.

City Council's safety-service committee last week heard from an official of the Ohio Rail Development Commission who said that her agency, using federal grants, would pay for a crossing upgrade for every rail crossing Perrysburg closed.

"If you close Pine, we'll put a light and gate at any crossing in the community without cost," Susan Kirkland, the rail agency's manager of safety programs, said.

Perrysburg administrator John Alexander said Pine Street would be the most likely candidate for closure because of its low traffic volume.

"Cherry Street would be the logical place for lights and gates because it has more traffic," Mr. Alexander added. "And Hickory Street also in my judgment would be a prime target for improved safety measures."

The issue is not new. In 1998, Ms. Kirkland wrote to then-Mayor Reeve Kelsey to recommend that crossings at Hickory, Maple, Cherry, Pine, and Mulberry streets be closed.

In return, Ms. Kirkland wrote, her agency and the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio would pay to install lights and gates at crossings on East Boundary, Locust, Elm, and Walnut streets. Perrysburg has 12 at-grade crossings, she noted in the letter.

Another reason to close the Pine Street crossing is the potential hazard northbound vehicles face. After vehicles cross the tracks, they have barely enough room to fit between Third Street and the rails, safety-service committee member Liz Larson-Shidler said.

Police Chief Rick Gilts said he was consulted on the possible closure of the Pine Street crossing.

"We felt it would not impair our ability to respond," he said. "We can cross at Indiana and Cherry streets. I feel it would be advantageous."

Acting fire Chief Wade Johnson was unavailable for comment.



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