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Funding for rail safety improvements coming soon

Announcement should be made in "coming weeks" feds say

Funds for a level rail crossing on Wilson Road should be coming soon, according to a statement from Transport Canada.

Funds for a level rail crossing on Wilson Road should be coming soon, according to a statement from Transport Canada.

By Joel Wittnebel/The Oshawa Express

The dollars may be finally flowing to improve a level rail crossing that was the site of a deadly accident nearly four years ago.

In February 2012, 16-year-old Jacob Hicks was struck and killed by a CN freight train at the level crossing on Wilson Road. Immediately following the incident, city officials and representatives from CN made declarations that the crossing would be improved to make sure such a tragedy could not be repeated.

However, the crossing remains without any pedestrian safety measures to this day.

When The Oshawa Express rejuvenated interest in Jacob’s story last year, council claimed a debate between city officials, CN and Transport Canada over who would end up footing the bill for the improvements was throwing a wrench in any action.

At the time, Councillor Bob Chapman said the city put its portion of the funding aside immediately following Jacob’s incident. The federal government also said it was supportive of funding its half of an electronic gate.

The city’s portion is approximately $87,500, or 25 per cent of the cost, with CN covering another 25 per cent and Transport Canada covering the remaining half.

In July, the city and CN reached an agreement and an application was filed through Transport Canada’s Grade Crossing Improvement Program (GCIP).

Transport Canada spokesperson Natasha Gauthier confirmed the feds received the application on July 25, but could not confirm if the funds had been approved. The total cost for electronic pedestrian gates is estimated to be approximately $350,000.

“The projects receiving GCIP funding in 2016-17 will be announced in the coming weeks,” she said in an emailed statement.

According to Ron Diskey, the city’s commissioner of community services, construction on the safety improvements could get underway this year if the funds get the final thumbs up.