Thursday, January 06, 2000

Couple travels Ohio for railroad safety program

The Associated Press

        NORWALK, Ohio — A couple whose son died in a car-train crash are using money from their lawsuit award to help communities make rail crossings safer.

        Dennis and Vicky Moore, of Canal Fulton in northeast Ohio, travel the state, encouraging city and county officials to study crossing upgrades and promoting their Angels on Track Foundation.

        The foundation also matches money that is spent on safety improvements. It is funded by $5.3 million in damages the Moores were awarded in a civil lawsuit after their son's death.

        Ryan Moore, 16, and two friends were killed in the crash March 25, 1995, at a Stark County crossing marked only with a sign. Ryan's brother and two friends were seriously injured.

        “My husband and I didn't think about crossings the way we do now, but it took the deaths of one of our sons and two of his friends,” Mrs. Moore said. “We're trying to turn his death into something positive.”

        There were no gates, lights, bells or stop signs at the crossing even though it is at the bottom of a hill and was considered dangerous, Mrs. Moore said.

        The Moores this week made their pitch to the Huron County commissioners who said they were considering setting up a rail safety committee. Such panels research crossing traffic counts and put priorities on upgrades at each crossing in a county.

        “This is something we need to analyze,” Commissioner Amy Hookway said Wednesday. “We shouldn't depend on the state or federal government.”

        Wayne, Stark and Delaware counties have set up similar committees.

        “We don't enjoy doing this,” Mrs. Moore said. “I'm going to cry as soon as I leave here. It's very emotional.”

        The state uses federal highway money to upgrade an average of 80 crossings each year in Ohio, said Rob Marvin, chief of the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio's Railroad Division.

        An additional 10 to 15 crossings are upgraded with crossing gates and lights each year through a state program, he said.

        The cost ranges from $90,000 to $200,000, with an average of $150,000, Mr. Marvin said. State and local money pays for 90 percent of the upgrade. The railroads pay 10 percent.

        The Angels on Track Foundation matches local funds up to one-third of the total cost of the project, Mrs. Moore said.

        “We limited the amount so that the state won't quit,” she said. “We don't want them to back out of their commitment.”


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