HUDSON — A solar powered LED sign has been installed at Hines Hill and Walters roads to notify motorists when a train is stopped on the Hines Hill railroad tracks.
In 2016 there were nine reports of trains stopped at the Hines Hill railroad crossing and 15 events reported in 2015, Assistant City Manager Frank Comeriato said. Trains back up in a train yard north of the intersection and can be delayed from 15 minutes to an hour, according to Comeriato.
The idea for a notification system was first reviewed by City Council in 2017, and Council members Lisa Radigan (Ward 2) and Beth Bigham (Ward 4) recently brought the issue back to the table.
At a recent council meeting, Radigan said putting in the sign will allow for "better convenience" for motorists traveling down Hines Hill and improve the safety forces’ "ability to see if a train is stopped on the tracks."
A video camera has been installed on a Hudson Public Power pole at the Hines Hill tracks and live footage is being monitored by police dispatchers, according to communications manager Jody Roberts.
Radigan said dispatchers are watching video footage of the Hines Hill crossing and will activate the sign at Hines Hill and Walters to let drivers know when a train is stopped on the tracks. Motorists can then choose to take a detour via Walters Road or turn around and backtrack to Route 8, according to Roberts.
Radigan added she is "thrilled" the sign has been put up, and noted she hopes it’s the "first step in continuing to address that crossing."
Bigham said city officials have talked about putting in a second LED sign at Hines Hill and Valley View roads.
"I hope to see that implemented," added Bigham.
Council Member Hal DeSaussure (At Large) praised Radigan and Bigham for their work in getting the sign installed.
"It really is a citywide effort because it involves our dispatchers who look at [the video} and will put the notification out there. It also involves our Hudson Public Power folks. It has been a joint effort," said DeSaussure. He added he hoped city motorists will now be able to "avoid the major inconvenience on Hines Hill that we’ve had here up to now."
Mayor David Basil said Council had previously examined the issue and determined the cost of implementing a notification system was too high, but noted the expense "came down a little bit with the infrastructure that we have out there now."
Reporter Phil Keren can be reached at 330-541-9421, firstname.lastname@example.org, or on Twitter at @keren_phil.