Crossing Treatment Procedures

State Laws and Regulations

4957.04 Acquiring necessary property; sale to railroad company

The land or property required to make the alteration in the street or highway necessitated by a proposed crossing improvement, shall be purchased or appropriated by the municipal corporation or county in the manner provided for in sections 163.01 to 163.22, inclusive, of the Revised Code. The land or property required to make the alteration in the railroad necessitated by the proposed improvement shall be purchased or appropriated by the railroad company in the manner provided for in sections 163.01 to 163.22, inclusive, of the Revised Code. The municipal corporation or county may also acquire the land or property, or a part thereof, required to make the alteration in the railroad and subsequently sell the same or a part thereof at private sale to the railroad for such purposes, and execute and deliver a deed for it.

Ohio Rev. Code Ann. § 4957.04

4955.20 Highway crossings and sidewalks; maintenance and repair

Companies operating a railroad in this state shall build and keep in repair good and sufficient crossings over or approaches to such railroad, its tracks, sidetracks, and switches, at all points where any public highway, street, lane, avenue, alley, road, or pike is intersected by such railroad, its tracks, sidetracks, or switches. Such companies shall build and keep in repair good and sufficient sidewalks on both sides of streets intersected by their railroads, the full width of the right of way owned, claimed, or occupied by them. The board of township trustees shall have power to fix, and determine the kind and extent, and the time and manner of constructing, crossings and approaches outside of municipal corporations.

The legislative authority of a municipal corporation may exercise the same powers as to crossings, approaches, and sidewalks within municipal corporations as such board exercises concerning crossings and approaches outside of municipal corporations. Such crossings, approaches, and sidewalks shall be constructed, repaired, and maintained by the railroad companies as so ordered.

Ohio Rev. Code Ann. § 4955.20

4955.29 Exception

Sections 4955.27 and 4955.28 of the Revised Code do not apply to any case in which compensation for building a private crossing is considered and estimated as part of the consideration to be paid for the right of way, so far as the right to private crossing has been or may be settled or paid for. Such sections do not affect, in any manner, any contract or agreement between any railroad company or person having control or management of a railroad and the proprietor or occupants of lands adjoining, for the construction or maintenance of railroad crossings.

Ohio Rev. Code Ann. § 4955.29

4957.10 Powers as to grades above or below railroad tracks

Any municipal corporation may raise or lower, or cause to be raised or lowered, the grade of any street or way owned by it, either within or without its municipal limits, above or below railroad tracks, and may require any railroad company operating a railroad across such streets or ways to raise or lower the grade of its tracks and may construct ways or crossings above the tracks of any railroad, or require the railroad company to construct ways or crossings that are to be passed under its tracks. “Railroad” includes interurban railroads and “railroad company” includes interurban railroad companies engaged in the operation of cars by electricity or other motive power. Any municipal corporation may require such railroad company to erect permanent piers, abutments, or any other appropriate supports in the ways, crossings, streets, roads, or alleys, whenever in the opinion of the legislative authority of the municipal corporation, the raising or lowering of the grade of any such railroad tracks, or the raising or lowering of the construction of such ways, crossings, or other supports may be necessary, upon the conditions set forth in sections 4957.10 to 4957.26, inclusive, of the Revised Code.

Ohio Rev. Code Ann. § 4957.10

4957.24 Cost of maintenance

After the completion of the work, crossings and approaches shall be kept in repair as follows:

(A) When the public way crosses a railroad by an overhead bridge, the cost of maintenance must be borne by the municipal corporation;

(B) When the public way passes under the railroad, the bridge and its abutments shall be kept and maintained by the railroad company, and the public way and its approaches shall be maintained and kept in repair by the municipal corporation in which they are situated.

Ohio Rev. Code Ann. § 4957.24

4957.18 Apportionment of cost between municipal corporation and railroad

The cost of constructing a crossing improvement authorized, including the making of ways, crossings, or viaducts, above or below the railroad tracks, and the raising or lowering of the grades of the railroad tracks and sidetracks for such distance as is required by such municipal corporation and made necessary by such improvement, together with the cost of land or property purchased or appropriated, and damages to owners of abutting or other property, shall be borne, unless otherwise agreed upon, eighty-five per cent by the municipal corporation and fifteen per cent by such railroad company. The municipal corporation shall have a right of action against any such company for the recovery of fifteen per cent or other agreed proportion of such costs payable by it, with interest from the time they become due. Such municipal corporation and company may agree as to what part of the work shall be done by the company, and may fix the amount, or agree upon a method or basis for calculating and ascertaining the amount, to be allowed or credited to the company for doing the work. Such company shall be entitled to deduct from its fifteen per cent or other agreed proportion of the cost of the improvement, the expense incurred by it in the change of its grade required by the municipal corporation or made necessary by it under such specifications, but only if the amount of expense, or a method or basis for calculating it, has been agreed upon in writing between the municipal corporation and the company. If the amount of work done by the company, or made necessary by reason of such change of grade on lowering or raising its tracks, exceeds fifteen per cent or other agreed proportion of the cost of the improvement, then it shall have the right to recover the amount with interest in excess of fifteen per cent or other agreed proportion of the expenses, in an action at law against the municipal corporation.

Ohio Rev. Code Ann. § 4957.18

4957.19 Payment of railroad company’s proportion of cost

The legislative authority of a municipal corporation may, by ordinance, prescribe the manner and time of payment by a railroad company of the proportion of the cost of a crossing improvement which the company is required to pay.

Ohio Rev. Code Ann. § 4957.19

4957.06 Cost of maintenance of bridge borne by county or state

After the completion of the crossing alteration, the crossings and approaches shall be kept in repair as follows:

(A) When the public way crosses a railroad, or railroad and interurban railroad, by an overhead bridge, the cost of maintenance must be borne by the county or the state as may be provided by law.

(B) When the public way passes under a railroad, or railroad and interurban railroad, the bridge and its abutments shall be kept and maintained by the railroad company, or the railroad company and interurban railroad company, as the case may be, in such proportions as are fixed by agreement between the parties or, in the absence of such agreement, in such proportions as may be fixed by the court of common pleas of the county in which the improvement is located, and the public way and its approaches shall be maintained and kept in repair by the county in which they are situated or by the state as may be provided by law.

Ohio Rev. Code Ann. § 4957.06

Blocked Crossings

State Laws, Regulations, and Penalties

5589.21 Obstruction of public roads by railroad companies

(A) No railroad company shall obstruct, or permit or cause to be obstructed a public street, road, or highway, by permitting a railroad car, locomotive, or other obstruction to remain upon or across it for longer than five minutes, to the hindrance or inconvenience of travelers or a person passing along or upon such street, road, or highway.

(B) At the end of each five minute period of obstruction of a public street, road, or highway, each railroad company shall cause such railroad car, locomotive, or other obstruction to be removed for sufficient time, not less than three minutes, to allow the passage of persons and vehicles waiting to cross.

(C) This section does not apply to obstruction of a public street, road, or highway by a continuously moving through train or caused by circumstances wholly beyond the control of the railroad company, but does apply to other obstructions, including without limitation those caused by stopped trains and trains engaged in switching, loading, or unloading operations.

(D) If a railroad car, locomotive, or other obstruction is obstructing a public street, road, or highway in violation of division (A) of this section and the violation occurs in the unincorporated area of one or more counties, or in one or more municipal corporations, the officers and employees of each affected county or municipal corporation may charge the railroad company with only one violation of the law arising from the same facts and circumstances and the same act.

(E) Upon the filing of an affidavit or complaint for violation of division (A) of this section, summons shall be issued to the railroad company pursuant to division (B) of section 2935.10 of the Revised Code, which summons shall be served on the regular ticket or freight agent of the company in the county where the offense occurred.

Ohio Rev. Code Ann. § 5589.21

5589.211 Obstruction of public roads by railroad companies; abandonment of locomotive

No railroad company shall obstruct, or permit or cause to be obstructed, a public street, road, or highway, by permitting any part of a train whose crew has abandoned the locomotive to remain across it for longer than five minutes to the hindrance or inconvenience of travelers or a person passing along or upon the street, road, or highway, unless the safety of the train crew requires them to abandon the locomotive.

Upon the filing of an affidavit or complaint for violation of this section, summons shall be issued to the railroad company pursuant to division (B) of section 2935.10 of the Revised Code, which summons shall be served on the regular ticket or freight agent of the company in the county where the offense occurred.

Ohio Rev. Code Ann. § 5589.211

2935.10 Procedure upon filing of affidavit or complaint; withdrawal of unexecuted warrants

(A) Upon the filing of an affidavit or complaint as provided by section 2935.09 of the Revised Code, if it charges the commission of a felony, such judge, clerk, or magistrate, unless he has reason to believe that it was not filed in good faith, or the claim is not meritorious, shall forthwith issue a warrant for the arrest of the person charged in the affidavit, and directed to a peace officer; otherwise he shall forthwith refer the matter to the prosecuting attorney or other attorney charged by law with prosecution for investigation prior to the issuance of warrant.

(B) If the offense charged is a misdemeanor or violation of a municipal ordinance, such judge, clerk, or magistrate may:

(1) Issue a warrant for the arrest of such person, directed to any officer named in section 2935.03 of the Revised Code but in cases of ordinance violation only to a police officer or marshal or deputy marshal of the municipal corporation;

(2) Issue summons, to be served by a peace officer, bailiff, or court constable, commanding the person against whom the affidavit or complaint was filed to appear forthwith, or at a fixed time in the future, before such court or magistrate. Such summons shall be served in the same manner as in civil cases.

(C) If the affidavit is filed by, or the complaint is filed pursuant to an affidavit executed by, a peace officer who has, at his discretion, at the time of commission of the alleged offense, notified the person to appear before the court or magistrate at a specific time set by such officer, no process need be issued unless the defendant fails to appear at the scheduled time.

(D) Any person charged with a misdemeanor or violation of a municipal ordinance may give bail as provided in sections 2937.22 to 2937.46 of the Revised Code, for his appearance, regardless of whether a warrant, summons, or notice to appear has been issued.

(E) Any warrant, summons, or any notice issued by the peace officer shall state the substance of the charge against the person arrested or directed to appear.

(F) When the offense charged is a misdemeanor, and the warrant or summons issued pursuant to this section is not served within two years of the date of issue, a judge or magistrate may order such warrant or summons withdrawn and the case closed, when it does not appear that the ends of justice require keeping the case open.

Ohio Rev. Code Ann. § 2935.10

Warning Devices-Passive

State Laws and Regulations

4955.33 Warning signs at highway grade crossings

At all points where its railroad crosses a public road at a common grade, each company shall erect crossbuck signing at positions at each such crossing that are in accordance with the department of transportation manual for uniform traffic control devices, adopted under section 4511.09 of the Revised Code, to give notice of the proximity of the railroad and warn persons to be on the lookout for the locomotive. Any such signing that has been or is erected in accordance with this section may lawfully be continued in use until it is replaced. A company that neglects or refuses to comply with this section is liable in damages for all injuries that occur to persons or property from such neglect or refusal.

Ohio Rev. Code Ann. § 4955.33

Warning Devices- Train Borne

State Laws, Regulations, and Penalties

4955.32 Locomotive signal at public highway or grade crossing

(A) As used in this section, “lite locomotive consist” means a consist of locomotives not attached to any piece of equipment or attached only to a caboose.

(B) When the locomotive in the lead of a train, when a lite locomotive consist, or when an individual locomotive is approaching a public highway or a grade crossing, either of the following shall occur:

(1) The engineer or person in charge of the locomotive shall sound the locomotive horn in accordance with 49 C.F.R. part 222;

(2) An alternative audible warning system approved by the public utilities commission under section 4955.321 of the Revised Code shall be activated in accordance with guidelines established by the commission.

(C) The establishment of an alternative audible warning system does not preclude the sounding of a locomotive horn by an engineer or other person in charge of a locomotive in an emergency situation, as determined by the sole judgment of the engineer or other person.

Ohio Rev. Code Ann. § 4955.32

4999.04 Duties of person in charge of a locomotive

(A) No person in charge of a locomotive shall fail to bring the locomotive to a full stop at least two hundred feet before arriving at a crossing with another track, or proceed through the crossing before signaled to do so or before the way is clear.

(B)(1) Whoever violates this section or fails to comply with division (B)(1) of section 4955.32 of the Revised Code is guilty of a misdemeanor of the fourth degree. If the violation or failure to comply causes physical harm to any person, whoever violates this section or fails to comply with division (B)(1) of section 4955.32 of the Revised Code is guilty of a misdemeanor of the third degree.

(2) With respect to a charge of violating division (B)(1) of this section for a failure to comply with division (B)(1) of section 4955.32 of the Revised Code, it is an affirmative defense that an alternative audible warning system described in division (B)(2) of that section was activated.

Ohio Rev. Code Ann. § 4999.04

4955.321 Alternative audible warning systems

The public utilities commission may evaluate alternative systems for providing an audible warning of an approaching locomotive. The commission may approve the use of an audible warning system as an alternative to the horn sounding required under division (B)(1) of section 4955.32 of the Revised Code only if it determines that the alternative audible warning system complies with applicable federal requirements for an audible warning of an approaching train and only if train-activated warning devices also are present at any public highway or grade crossing at which the alternative audible warning system is installed. The commission shall establish guidelines for the use and operation of any alternative audible warning system it approves.

Ohio Rev. Code Ann. § 4955.321

Warning Devices- Active

State Laws and Regulations

4907.471 Survey of public crossings by commission; classification; priority ratings; additional protective devices

(A) The public utilities commission shall survey all public crossings of railroads at grade, whether on state, county, or township highways or on streets or ways within municipal corporations. The commission shall devise a formula according to sound highway engineering practice for determining the probability of accident at each such crossing and may include in the formula factors representing volume of vehicular traffic, volume of train traffic, history of previous accidents, train type and speed, limitations of view, intersection angle, number of tracks, highway alignment, and such other special factors and conditions as are in its opinion relevant. The commission shall submit the formula to the director of transportation, who shall review it to ensure that it is consistent with applicable federal requirements.

The commission shall classify all such public crossings according to that formula and shall prepare a priority list for the protection of such crossings, giving highest priority to the crossings at which the commission finds the highest probability of accident, and lowest priority to the ones at which it finds the least probability of accident, provided that for the purposes of this section the commission shall place first on the list any crossing that meets all of the following criteria:

(1) The crossing is at a section of railroad track that is being reactivated on or after May 1, 1990, and that has not been used for at least three years prior to the reactivation as determined by the commission;

(2) The territory abutting the railroad’s right-of-way for a distance of three hundred feet or more has been improved with residences during the period of time the track was not being used;

(3) The commission has designated the crossing as dangerous and hazardous under division (A) of this section.

The priority list shall be for the use of the commission in carrying out this section and sections 4907.474907.474, and 4907.475 of the Revised Code and shall not be admissible in evidence in any action to recover damages for negligence arising out of the use of such grade crossings. The list shall be made available to the department of transportation for use in carrying out sections 4511.61 and 4955.33 of the Revised Code.

The survey shall be continuous, and after the original list is prepared, the commission may change the respective priority ratings as it may from time to time determine. When new crossings at grade are opened, the commission shall survey them and place them on the priority list at such places as in its opinion the probability of accident at those crossings warrants.

The commission may, pursuant to the priority ratings established as provided in this section, designate as dangerous and hazardous any railroad highway grade crossing it determines to be in need of additional protective devices. With respect to a high priority crossing so designated, the commission may negotiate with the railroad concerned, and with the state agency or political subdivision having jurisdiction over the crossing, an agreement providing for the installation at the crossing of appropriate luminous reflecting warning signs, luminous flashing signals, crossing gates illuminated at night, or other protective devices. The number, type, and location of the signs, signals, gates, or other protective devices, which shall conform with generally recognized national standards, shall be determined by agreement among the commission, the railroad concerned, and the state agency or political subdivision. The assignment of any part or all of the cost of the installation and subsequent maintenance of such signs, signals, gates, or other protective devices to the railroad and to the state or the political subdivisions shall be by the commission in any proportion it determines proper that is consistent with any applicable federal requirements, after giving due consideration to the factors listed in division (C) of this section.

(B) In cases where the railroad does not agree that the installation of additional protective devices is necessary, or where no agreement can be reached with the railroad as to the number, type, or location of such devices or the proportion of cost to be assigned to the railroad, the commission shall hold a public hearing as to the necessity for installing additional protective devices at the crossing at issue. Written notice of the hearing shall be given to the railroad at least thirty days in advance of the hearing, and notice of the hearing shall be published once a week for three consecutive weeks in a newspaper of general circulation in the county in which the crossing at issue is located. If, after the hearing, it is the opinion of the commission that the public safety requires additional protective devices to be erected and maintained at the crossing, the commission shall give the superintendent, manager, or other officer in charge of the railroad a written order of the protective devices required and the date by which any action shall be completed, and shall assign to the parties the cost of installing and maintaining the protective devices in any proportion it determines proper that is consistent with any applicable federal requirements, after giving due consideration to the factors listed in division (C) of this section.

(C) In assigning the cost of additional protective devices, the commission shall consider factors of volume of vehicular traffic, volume of train traffic, train type and speed, limitations of view and the causes thereof, savings, if any, which will inure to the railroad as the result of the installation, benefits to the public resulting from the reduction of hazard at the crossing, the probable cost of the installation, the future cost to the railroad of maintaining the devices, and any other special factors and conditions that the commission considers relevant. The commission may accept a railroad’s agreement to maintain the additional protective devices as being its share of the cost for the protection. If any part of the cost of installation is assigned by the commission to the state agency or political subdivision having jurisdiction over the crossing, that cost may be paid from any funds levied and made available for highway or street purposes, provided that funds from the grade crossing protection fund created by section 4907.472 of the Revised Code may be used to pay the public’s share of the cost. After the commission has issued an appropriate order requiring that additional protective devices be installed by a specific date, which shall be a reasonable time from the date of the order, the railroad concerned shall erect or install the additional protective devices within the time prescribed by the order. If the additional protective devices are not erected or installed within that time, the commission may reduce or eliminate the amount of any funds in the grade crossing protection fund obligated to pay the public’s share of the costs relating to the erection, installation, and maintenance of the additional protective devices and, consistent with any applicable federal requirements, may assign to the railroad concerned any amount, up to one hundred per cent, of the total amount of the costs of erecting, installing, and maintaining the additional protective devices.

Ohio Rev. Code Ann. § 4907.471

4907.48 Regulation of crossing signals

All gates, bells, or devices erected under the direction of the public utilities commission shall be built within the time, in the manner, and of materials approved by the commission. Such devices so authorized shall be located in the highway or street on one or both sides of the railroad tracks, as the commission deems the public safety requires. Such gates shall be so constructed that when closed they obstruct or prevent passage across such railroad from the side on which a gate is located. Such bell must be so constructed that it will ring before the approach of every train of cars or locomotive within three hundred feet or more of such crossing, and continue to ring until such train or locomotive has reached the crossing. A person shall be in charge of such gate who shall close it at the approach of each train or locomotive and keep it open at all other times. If an automatic bell or other mechanical device is required at such crossing, the railroad shall keep such bell or device in good working order. For every neglect of duty imposed by this section such railroad shall forfeit twenty-five dollars.

Ohio Rev. Code Ann. § 4907.48

Private Crossings

State Laws and Regulations

4955.27 Private crossing

When a person owns fifteen or more acres of land in one body through which a railroad passes, which land is so situated that he cannot use a crossing in a public street, lane, road, or other highway in going from his land on one side of the railroad to that on the other side without great inconvenience, at his request the company or person operating such railroad, at the expense of such company or person shall, within four months after such request, construct a good and sufficient private crossing across such railroad and the lands occupied by the company, between the two pieces of land to enable such landowner to pass with a loaded team and over which he may go at all times when such railroad is not being used at the crossing, or so near to it as to render passing thereat dangerous.

Ohio Rev. Code Ann. § 4955.27

4955.28 Owner may build at company’s expense

If, for four months after the request by a landowner for that purpose, the company or person neglects to construct a good and sufficient private crossing as provided in section 4955.27 of the Revised Code, after reasonable notice to the agent of the company for receiving and shipping freight at the station on the railroad nearest to the land where it is proposed to construct such crossing by the landowner of the time when he will proceed to construct it, such landowner may enter upon the lands of the company at any point he wishes between the two pieces of his land and construct such crossing. Such company or person is liable to such landowner for all the reasonable expense of such construction, not exceeding fifty dollars, which he may recover in an action against such company or person.

Ohio Rev. Code Ann. § 4955.28

Vegetation Clearance

State Laws, Regulations, and Penalties

4955.36 Removal of obstructive vegetation from right of way at highway intersection

Every railroad company shall destroy or remove plants, trees, brush, or other obstructive vegetation upon its right-of-way at each intersection with a public road or highway, for a distance of six hundred feet or a reasonably safe distance from the roadway of such public road or highway as shall be determined by the public utilities commission.

When any railroad company fails to destroy or remove such vegetation after ten-day written notice served on its local agent, the commission, board of county commissioners, board of township trustees, or legislative authority of a municipal corporation, in which the intersection is located, having the care of such road or highway, shall remove such plants, trees, brush, or other obstructive vegetation and shall recover the cost of removal from the responsible railroad company. If the company fails to pay the amount demanded within thirty days, after such company has been notified by certified mail at the address to which tax bills are sent, the commission, board of county commissioners, board of township trustees, or legislative authority of a municipal corporation shall certify the amount demanded to the county auditor of the county in which the work was performed to be collected as other taxes and assessments and upon collection shall be credited to the general fund of the public body causing said work to be performed.

Ohio Rev. Code Ann. § 4955.36