EUCLID, Ohio - The FOX 8 I TEAM has learned safety improvements are coming to a local railroad crossing where a mother recorded cell phone video of a school bus with kids under a crossing gate as a train rumbled past.
Last month, Shelley Banning saw a Euclid city school bus stopped under a rail crossing gate on Chardon Road. The gate came to rest on top of the bus.
Tuesday, only FOX 8 was rolling as state and local officials gathered for a safety investigation there along with people from the Norfolk-Southern railroad.
The group decided changes needed to be made for safety at that crossing. The biggest change: moving one crossing gate closer to the tracks. Buses need to pull up close to the tracks so that drivers can stop, open the doors, look, and listen as required by law. However, one gate now is so far back from the tracks, if a train is coming through as a bus pulls up, the gate can, indeed, come down on the bus.
Meantime, the I TEAM found there are no pavement markings telling drivers where to stop. They weren’t there before the incident that started the investigation. And, they aren’t there now, a month later.
We tried to ask about it when we approached the top city official at the scene on Tuesday, but he drove off ignoring our questions. The Euclid Mayor’s office also did not return calls.
State agencies tell us the city will be involved in smaller projects as part of the safety improvement at the crossing.
Shelley Banning, the mom who shot the video sparking all this said, "I think that's great. Knowing I made a difference. I mean, it was always about safety."
Norfolk Southern issued a statement that said, in part, “Norfolk Southern agrees that moving the one crossing gate closer to the tracks should enhance safety. We are on board with making modifications to the crossing.”
It's not clear though, when the improvements will get done. It could take months. Engineering work has to be done, and the parties involved have to sort out who pays for what.
But there's progress. And that mom couldn’t have asked for more. She said, " Yeah, I never wanted to see anybody get in trouble. It was always about safety.”
One factor in the distance from the tracks for the crossing gate in question, there once was a third set of tracks there. But those tracks were ripped out some time ago.
The state agencies involved include the Public Utilities Commission and the Ohio Rail Development Commission.