HUDSON — An effort is underway to install a system to let motorists know when a train is stopped at the Hines Hill Road railroad crossing.
The idea was first reviewed by city council in 2017 and two members recently brought the issue back to the table.
City Council member Lisa Radigan (Ward 2) said she and Council member Beth Bigham (Ward 4) asked city staff to again investigate installing a warning system so that motorists driving in that area "would know that the train was stuck there … [and] they could turn around [and] go a different way."
Radigan added she felt the system should also be set up so that dispatchers would know about the stopped train and then tell first responders to go in a different direction.
Assistant City Manager Frank Comeriato said there were nine reports of trains being stopped at the Hines Hill crossing in 2016 and 15 reported events in 2015. He added the trains halt at the crossing anywhere from 15 minutes to one hour.
"It is the city’s understanding that these stopped train incidents are due to back ups in train yards further north on the line," said Comeriato.
The project’s cost would be around $45,000, for installation of a video camera at the crossing, putting up LED signs at the intersections of Hines Hill and Walters roads, and Hines Hill and Valley View roads, as well as associated hardwares, communications components and materials, Comeriato said.
Under the proposal, Comeriato said a video camera would be installed on a Hudson Public Power pole at the tracks and the live footage it generates would be monitored by police dispatchers. If the dispatchers see a train stopped on the tracks or receive a phone call about a stopped train, they can activate a message on the LED signs, according to Comeriato.
He explained each sign would say "Train stopped at tracks." Comeriato added he needs to speak with Hudson Police Chief Perry Tabak about the logistics of the system.
"This is a way for us to kind of take control of it," said Tabak. "It gives us a way to warn citizens, at least give them the option, ‘Hey look; there’s a train stuck [at the crossing]. You might want to go a different route.’"
Having the camera would also help dispatchers direct police officers and firefighters to an alternate route if a train is stopped on the tracks, said Tabak.
Comeriato said the first stage of the project would be installing the camera at the railroad tracks and the LED sign at Hines Hill and Walters roads. After staff monitors the system and addresses functionality issues, Comeriato said the second stage would be putting up the LED sign at Hines Hill and Valley View roads.
Radigan noted she felt city leaders must continue to explore solutions to the larger problem of the train being stopped on the tracks, but said the proposal was "a nice first step."
"These [cost estimates] seem quite reasonable," said Radigan. "I hope we can move it forward. I think it would be a great benefit certainly to anybody who is over on that side of town …it’s something that certainly is needed."
Bigham agreed with her colleague.
"The numbers look fairly good," said Bigham. "…[The plan] can help with convenience, but also safety. I think it’s worth looking at."
Mayor David Basil said he was "very happy" that the project was back "on the agenda."
"I would encourage council to push it along," said Basil.
Comeriato said he is finalizing the timeline for the project and will give council an update on July 9.
Reporter Phil Keren can be reached at 330-541-9421, email@example.com, or on Twitter at @keren_phil.