Ohio Bill Would Require Railroads to Build Walkways in Rail Yards

A work train passes through Duluth, Ga., on Feb. 5, 2019. (Photo by Todd DeFeo/The DeFeo Groupe)

Ohio officials are set to consider a bill requiring railroad companies constructing tracks in a rail yard to also build a walkway next to the track anywhere “company employees frequently perform switching activities.”

Walkways must be at least two feet wide and have “a reasonably uniform surface” such as asphalt or concrete.

House Bill 186 allows railroads to petition the state’s public utility commission for a waiver exempting them from the bill’s requirements. It also gives railroad employees the right to file a complaint with the commission alleging a violation of the requirement.

State Reps. Brett Hillyer, R-Uhrichsville, and Michael Sheehy, D-Oregon, are sponsoring the legislation. The bill is pending before the Ohio House Transportation and Public Safety Committee.

Ohio officials are also considering a bill requiring vehicle operators to watch, listen, and stop for on-track equipment that may be approaching a railroad crossing. House Bill 226 is also pending before the Transportation and Public Safety Committee.

“This legislation addresses maintenance of way, railroad contractors and other on-track equipment that are not included in state statute that mandates a motorist’s responsibilities when approaching a crossing,” state Reps. Jon Cross, R-Kenton, and Michele Lepore-Hagan, D-Youngstown, said in prepared testimony. “In other words, when the gates are down, when there is a train approaching, or a flagman or stop sign is present, a motorist is responsible to stop, watch and listen before moving over the crossing.”

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