LIMA, Ohio — Gov. Mike DeWine announced $100 million in federal funding is available to help local communities eliminate dangerous areas where railroad tracks and roadways intersect.

The federal funds are available through a new program in Ohio called the Rail Crossing Elimination Program. According to the Ohio Rail Development Commission, there are nearly 6,000 of these railroad grade crossings in the state. 

The goal is to work with the communities to engineer construction projects and work to create safer intersections. So far, the City of Lima is one community that submitted an application.

"We have 17,000 cars per day on cable road and probably closer to 25,000 vehicles per day on a lighter road. And so this three track crossing is very close to that intersection," said Kirk Niemeyer, Director of Public Works in the City of Lima, Ohio.

What You Need To Know

  • The “Rail crossing Elimination Program” will help reconstruct, and help with intersections where railroad tracks intersect at roadways

  • DeWine announced $100 million in federal funding to help Ohio communities tackle dangerous railway intersections
  • The goal is to work with the communities to engineer construction projects and work to create safer intersections
  • The City of Lima is one community that submitted an application

”Funding levels will be determined on the characteristics of each project submitted. This program provides $100 million over the next two fiscal years (FY 24 and 25) and was approved in House Bill 33, the state’s Operating Budget," said Wende Jourdan, Public Information Officer, Rail Development Commission who provided issued statements to Spectrum News. "Program length will depend upon the number of projects awarded and the complexity of those projects. Projects will vary widely in their stages of readiness and therefore funding will be decided on a case-by-case basis. It is always important to maintain the state’s rail infrastructure. Rail is a vital component to our transportation system."

Vicky Moore, the founder of the “Angels on Track Foundation,” a nonprofit dedicated to promoting rail-safety in Ohio, lost her son Ryan Moore in a car crash involving a train when he was 16 years old. 

“All crossings are dangerous even if a crossing has gates or lights because they don’t always work,” Moore said. “The crossing where my son was killed and his two friends, it had just a box-cross sign which doesn’t tell you a train is coming, and it doesn’t protect you. It’s just a sign. And there was vegetation all the way down the hill, and at the crossing. The problem is there are no federal mandates regarding site clearances. So the railroad wants you to yield to the train. But how can you yield to something that you can’t see? And that was the situation in our accident.” 

The program will offer federal funds to municipalities to make several intersections safer that could be hazardous. The City of Lima submitted an application requesting nearly $24 million to help fix a problem area in their community that has led to previous crashes involving cars and trains. 

“We have met with the high rail commission before, specifically on the issue of the left turn lane, which backs up over the crossing,” Niemeyer said. “When we have traffic stopped, the traffic can back up over the tracks. We have stop vehicles on the railroad, which obviously is not good when we have trains moving back and forth.” 

Niemeyer said their goal with the request is to create an underpass at one intersection allowing for a safer flow of traffic at the intersection of Cable Road and the Chicago, Fort Wayne and Eastern tracks, which would let traffic continue to flow easily through the area. In the past, it has taken them nearly 20-years to secure funding for other projects. 

The City of Lima has also put forth another request of $1.2 million to help with a previous project through the Ohio Department of Transportation’s DriveThruOhio project. It would help with camera functions and radar systems using artificial intelligence to detect trains that are passing through the area. It would detect their travel, speed, length and see if the crossing is blocked. That information will head directly back to authorities to assist. 

“What’s great about this funding is that it’s dedicated towards problems like this on Cable road,” Niemeyer said.  

The funding through the program is available to all communities statewide. Communities need to submit applications to the Ohio Rail Development Commission in order to be considered for approval.