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A step forward for rail safety in Oshawa

Railway

The railway crossing on Wilson Road, seen earlier this year, may soon have a pedestrian safety gate and lights installed to prevent people from wandering on to the tracks.

By Joel Wittnebel/The Oshawa Express

A motion three years in the making only needs to pass the final hurdle of council chambers before it becomes a reality; and for Janice Hicks, it couldn’t come soon enough.

On June 18, the community services committee passed a staff recommendation that would see pedestrian safety gates and lights installed at the Wilson Road level crossing.

Currently, there are no pedestrian safety measures at the crossing.

Hicks, whose son was struck and killed by a CN freight train in February 2012, has been fighting to see changes made to the crossing to ensure the tragedy is not repeated.

Speaking after the meeting, Hicks said she was ecstatic with the news.

“It’s exactly what I wanted,” she said. “Hopefully this never happens again, but if there was ever an opportunity that it might happen, if those gates are there, I think it would stop it.”

The issue has seen its fair share of snags as the city, CN and Transport Canada are all involved in coordinating the funding for the project.

Through an application to Transport Canada and their Grade Crossing Improvement Program, the city and CN have agreed to each pay 25 per cent, approximately $87,500 each, while Transport Canada pays the remaining 50 per cent, or $175,000.

The application will need to be filed prior to the July 31 deadline.

Once approved and constructed, the safety system will include flashing lights, gates, bells and constant warning technology.

As well, the city plans to install fencing along the sidewalk to ensure pedestrians cannot wander off from the safety gates.

With the issue finally settled, Councillor John Neal says he hopes the city can move forward with other safety measures at rail crossings.

“Hopefully we can move on with these railway crossings and update them as best we can,” he says. “I know, going forward, the city of Oshawa is usually on the cutting edge of safety for its residents.”

The final approval is slated for council’s meeting on June 29, the last one before the summer recess.