In the newspaper today, we learn the Archbold Village Council Streets and Sidewalks Committee won’t devote further time to studying a system warning motorists when the Defiance Street Norfolk Southern railroad crossing is blocked by a stopped train.
This newspaper encourages committee members to reconsider this decision, and continue their study.
Under consideration is a system patterned after one in the city of Oregon. When a railroad crossing is blocked, lights at nearby intersections come on, advising drivers to find alternate routes.
Such a system could provide tangible and intangible benefits. Not only could the lights alleviate a bottleneck in the free flow of commerce, they might help motorists avoid feelings of frustration and anger.
Think about when you come upon stopped trains. You don’t know how long it’s been sitting; you don’t know how long it will continue to sit there. Do you turn around and try to find a detour, especially when you’re unfamiliar with the community? What if you’re a truck driver? It isn’t easy backing up a semi on either side of the Defiance Street crossing.
Will committee members walk up and down the street helping drivers get around the situation, as many downtown business owners and employees often do– especially when the vehicles have been sitting and waiting for an hour, or two, or more?
Just because NS is getting better at keeping our crossings open right now is no reason to stop looking for solutions to the problem. In the past, we’ve seen NS improve in the short term, only to backslide in a few weeks.
Case in point: After Bob Latta, U.S. Congressman representing Archbold, was told of the problems at the crossing, contacts were made with NS officials and the situation improved. But as time passed, blocked crossings became a problem again, over and over.
Maybe the system would be too expensive. Maybe it wouldn’t work in Archbold. But it deserves further study to find out.