By Joel Wittnebel/The Oshawa Express
The level-rail crossing at Wilson Road is getting a final safety improvement, years after a teenager was struck and killed there by a CN freight train.
Starting earlier this year, safety gates were installed across the sidewalks at the railway tracks across Wilson Road after a deal was finally stamped between the City of Oshawa, Transport Canada and CN, the operator of the tracks.
In 2012, 16-year-old Jacob Hicks was struck and killed at the crossing, which previously had descending gates for cars, but nothing blocking the sidewalks for pedestrians to warn of an approaching train.
Now, the gates are complete and on Aug. 7, the city put the final touch by spray painting wide logos reading “Look. Listen. Live” across the ground on either sides of the tracks.
“I think the logo is a great idea and the pedestrian gates are exactly what is needed at all dual train level crossings,” says Janice Hicks, Jacob’s mother. “To some, these efforts may seem to have been too costly, to me, they are a little too late, but priceless still the same.”
In the years following Jacob’s death, Janice has been petitioning for further railway safety measures at all level-crossings in Durham, and was a main driving force in ensuring the electronic gates were installed at Wilson Road.
Following Jacob’s death in 2012, the City of Oshawa immediately set aside funds to the tune of $87,000 to pay for its share of the improvements. The responsibility is shared between the railway company that uses the line, the municipality and Transport Canada. However, when a city report listed other cheaper options from the electronic gates, it was uncertain as to whether the project would move ahead.
At the time, Hicks circulated petitions for the gate to be the chosen option, garnering hundred of signatures.
“I wish this was in place before Jacob crossed those tracks,” Janice says. “They say time heals, but time has not helped with the missing of him from my life.”