(WJW) — The FOX 8 I-Team uncovered hazards at local rail crossings where trains pass and where you drive every day.
We went through inspection reports from the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio.
But, problems spotted often do not lead to quick fixes.
Thursday, we watched train tracks bounce as cars went over a rail crossing on Fair Road in Strongsville.
Records show inspectors wrote it up four times last year. One report noted: “Track is not secure.” Another noted: “Crossing surface not kept in good repair.”
Yet, we found more evidence of that in the same location, even now. The commission said it inspects every rail crossing every year.
Often, the reports show overgrown weeds or trees or problems with signals or signs.
But inspectors also find rough crossings and bouncing tracks.
We noticed one of those areas on Engle Road in Brook Park was written up five times.
“Any time there’s a problem with the rail itself, you’ve got a potential problem for the train,” said Vince Verna, vice president of the Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen.
Crossings that need repairs could, eventually, cause a train to wreck, he added.
“The track, and the safety of the track, and the maintenance of the track, are of utmost importance to the people running the trains ‘down’ the track,” Verna said.
The Public Utilities Commission told us it can’t force action to fix problems at these crossings. The rail companies have to keep up the tracks, signals and main parts of the crossings. The towns or highway agencies fix the roads leading up to the tracks.
The commission sends inspection findings to the rail companies or the towns, depending on what’s found. The state said it also can refer problems with tracks to a federal agency to take action.
We previously requested records from the federal agency regarding inspections, and we have not received those records. In the meantime, we sent the commission some concerns over rail crossings in Barberton.
Andrew Augustynovich turned to the I-Team, worried after the recent train derailments in Ohio.
Now, the commission said it will make a special check of the Barberton crossings.
“I was very happy to see that somebody’s actually taking the time to look at these crossings and get them reviewed,” said Augustynovich. “There’s concern that if there’s a chemical spill, or some kind of derailment … it’s going to affect neighborhoods.”
The mayor of Barberton also told us two of those crossings are scheduled for repaving sometime this year.
As we showed you earlier, inspections at crossings in some counties reveal very few problems. But, for instance, in Wayne County, “defects” were cited in about a third of inspections.
You may not always see quick fixes at the crossings, but suddenly, inspectors aren’t the only people watching.