While the state wants Orange Township to close the Franklin Street railroad crossing, one Lewis Center resident said that would create traffic issues.
Jeri Dill, a resident of Lewis Center, said she lives east of the crossing. She said she would like to see someone from the Ohio Rail Development Commission try to get out to go to work with the crossing closed.
“It will be a challenge getting out of the village next week when school is back in,” she said. “Trying to make a left turn out of the village will be impossible.”
In June, Orange Township trustees were asked by the Ohio Rail Development Commission to close the Franklin Street railroad crossing. In return for the closure, the commission offered help in developing planned trails and incentives up to $237,000 in services and equipment.
ORDC public information officer Julie Kaercher presented the idea of closing the crossing during the trustees’ June 19 meeting. She said the proposed closing was based on a 2016 study stating “a low vehicular count and a high train count at that location.”
Kaercher told trustees, “a closed crossing is a safe crossing.”
Township administrator Lee Bodnar said ORDC wants the township to commit and proceed with the closing before they will aid the township in building the trails.
“The Ohio Rail Development Commission basically shared, ‘if you want our help, we want your help,’” he said. “And basically, ‘if we don’t get your help, you won’t get any help.’”
Bodnar said his understanding is that the ORDC would prefer the township commit to moving forward without an agreement in place.
Since the July meeting Bodnar said he had spoken with the ORDC about the proposed closing.
“It will be at least two months before moving forward,” he said. “The commission continues to hammer out the legalese of an agreement. The commission wants to close the crossing, but it hasn’t happened yet.”
Bodnar said residents should attend the trustees’ meetings and talk about closing during the public comments portion.
“I would encourage people to attend trustees’ meetings and talk about items not on the agenda,” he said. “They can share their position on closing the Franklin Street crossing.”
Trustee meetings are the first and third Mondays of the month at the township hall, 1680 E. Orange Road, Lewis Center. Meeting begin at 7 p.m. For information, call the township offices at 740-548-5430.
D. Anthony Botkin may be reached at 740-413-0902 or on Twitter @dabotkin.