A blue light special of a different sort soon will be lighting up for motorists at two Oregon intersections.
They will warn motorists that trains are crossing Pickle Road, giving them a chance to find a detour.
To be installed this winter at Pickle's intersections with Woodville Road and Wheeling Street, the blue lights will flash when the crossing gates at the CSX Transportation railroad crossing between those two intersections are lowered, Paul Roman, Oregon's service director, said yesterday.
Pickle occasionally is blocked by trains waiting to pass through rail junctions in East Toledo and Northwood. While nearby underpasses at Woodville Road and Navarre Avenue provide reasonably close-by alternate routes, curves prevent motorists on Pickle from seeing from a distance whether the crossing is blocked.
Ray Norris, a senior engineer with SSOE, Inc., said the first time he drove that part of Pickle, he came upon a school bus that was turning around in the middle of the street after being blocked by a train.
“This will be a good, simple system to address the inconvenience and safety out there,” said Mr. Norris, whose firm is designing the traffic light and advisory light installations for the city. Mr. Norris said he knows of no similar installations anywhere else in the country.
While advance notice for motorists about trains might be deemed merely a convenience factor, Mr. Roman said it has a safety element too. Upon encountering a train, he said, many westbound motorists on Pickle turn around and then dash down either Patchen Road or Cresceus Road to get to Navarre, he said.
“The trains make them late, and people tend to speed when they're late,” Mr. Roman said.
The advisory lights will cost Oregon $27,000 and be installed on westbound Pickle at Wheeling, both directions of Wheeling at Pickle, and both directions of Woodville at Pickle. Signs explaining the lights will be posted nearby, Mr. Roman told a recent rail safety luncheon of the Toledo Metropolitan Area Council of Governments' freight committee.
The advisory lights will be put in as part of Oregon's installation of a traffic signal at Pickle and Wheeling, the service director said. The advisory lights won't be perfect, Mr. Roman said, because they'll only turn on when the crossing gates turn on and there will be no way to know whether the train involved is short and fast or long and slow.
Wood County commissioner Alvie Perkins, a freight committee member, said the advisory lights would have been welcome when he worked construction at the nearby Sunoco refinery, because trains blocking Pickle often made him late for work. “This is a fantastic idea,” Mr. Perkins said.
Bob McCloskey, a Toledo councilman whose east end district includes several crossings with similar problems, said he envisions similar lights for Consaul Street and Oakdale Avenue. Barb Jones, Toledo's chief signal engineer, said they might work for Summit Street in North Toledo too.
DaimlerChrysler paid for a similar system at the Matzinger Road crossing of the CSX and Ann Arbor railroads in North Toledo, but the system alerts truckers leaving several nearby terminals.