Bellevue considers closing rail crossings to traffic

BELLEVUE, OHIO (Toledo News Now) -  The City of Bellevue is considering permanently closing five rail crossings to vehicular traffic, at the request of Norfolk Southern.

The rail company is undergoing an multi-million dollar expansion project at its Bellevue facility. Because of the expansion, more trains are going through Bellevue and they're traveling faster.

Bellevue Mayor Don Berkey said Norfolk Southern has indicated it wants the city to close up to five rail crossings, including three on Monroe Street and two on Center Street, citing safety concerns due to increased rail traffic.

"For the City, it would be a sacrifice.  Closing two streets is going to create a traffic pattern and pedestrian patterns for our citizens," said Berkey.

Berkey said city leaders are studying the impact the closures would have on traffic and pedestrian patterns.

The Ohio Rail Commission would pay the city up to $200,000 for every closed crossing.  That could total up to $1 million dollars if leaders decide to close all of the crossings.

However, Berkey said that money may not go far enough.

"My concern is if we agree to closing a street, or both streets, and then a problem would occur that we overlooked and it would need some substantial amount of funding- we don't have it," said Berkey.

Berkey said he wants to see Norfolk Southern offer a financial incentive before supporting the closures.  The Norfolk Southern rail facility is outside of Bellevue city limits, so Berkey said benefits from the expansion will be limited.

Bellevue city council will ultimately vote on the decision.  Berkey said the city is still waiting for Norfolk Southern to submit its official request.