Perrysburg City Council last week authorized the closing of three rail crossings: at Hickory, Pine, and Cherry streets.
Those CSX crossings will be closed, and crossings at Walnut, Elm, and Locust streets will receive safety improvements that could include lights and gates. Crossbucks and stop signs are the only safety features now.
"These seem like good safety measures all around," Mayor Nelson Evans said.
The issue of problematic rail crossings and the disturbances the trains' loud horns create in residential neighborhoods has been discussed and studied for years in the city. Perrysburg has 12 at-grade crossings.
In 1998, the Ohio Rail Development Commission wrote to then-Mayor Reeve Kelsey to recommend that crossings at Hickory, Maple, Cherry, Pine, and Mulberry streets be closed.
In June, City Council's safety-service committee heard from an official of the state agency who said that federal grants would pay for a crossing upgrade for every rail crossing Perrysburg closed.
At that time, only the closing of Pine Street was under consideration. It was believed to have an extra potential hazard for northbound vehicles, which barely have enough room to fit between Third Street and
the rails after crossing the tracks.
Mayor Evans noted that Cherry was much the same way. The list of crossings grew to three in the interests of safety, he explained.
Susan Kirkland, manager of safety programs for the commission, estimated the total cost of the closures and improvements would be $600,000, of which Perrysburg's liability is zero. Summer of 2009 was the earliest the project could be completed, she added.
"Typically, communities don't want to close crossings until the other improvements have been done," she explained.
The crossings slated for closure can be barricaded with esthetics in mind, she explained. "We look to the city for guidance on that, then discuss the options with the railroad," Ms. Kirkland said.
In other business, council:
•Approved a lease with Casa Barron restaurant allowing it to use part of the sidewalk area in front of it.
•Approved a lease with the Perrysburg Convention and Visitors Bureau for use of the downtown sidewalks for the Farmers Market.
•Authorized the mayor and finance director to apply for an Ohio emergency medical services grant.
•Approved an easement to Toledo Edison for electrical service to a site on Williams Road.
•Authorized negotiations for a contract with Ridgestone Builders and Developers for traffic signals at State Rt. 25 and Harbor Town Place.
•Authorized paying Regulatory Compliance Consultants Inc. $56,000 for safety training and safety audits.
•Agreed to pay the Fort Meigs YMCA $160,000 to operate the outdoor pool this season.