MARTINS FERRY - Drivers who travel Ohio 7 will no longer have to stop at the railroad crossing that stretches across that roadway in Martins Ferry.

MARTINS FERRY - Drivers who travel Ohio 7 will no longer have to stop at the railroad crossing that stretches across that roadway in Martins Ferry.

The Ohio Department of Transportation placed exempt signs on?Sept. 26, which means that school buses and tractor trailers can travel over the tracks without stopping. The tracks are owned by Norfolk Southern Railroad Co.

Martins Ferry Mayor Paul Riethmiller said the railroad tracks are only used a few times a week by Nickles Bakery between the hours of 2-4 a.m. The train cars are used to bring ingredients to the bakery.

"The railroad tracks cross route 7 and cross right behind Staffilino Chevrolet and the rails actually go into Nickles Bakery," Riethmiller said. "The issue is there is no crossing gates at that railroad crossing, there are red lights, but there are no gate arms that go down."

The main concern to the mayor and many others who helped with this project is the possibility of an accident that could be caused by the heavy traffic on Ohio 7 and the speed limit set at 50 mph. When the train cars do go into Nickles Bakery, the traffic is usually light and very seldom do the trains run during daylight hours.

"It's not so much the vehicles right behind the bus actually rear ending the vehicles, but sometimes people behind the bus will slam on their brakes and stop, and they get rear ended," said Riethmiller.

"The issue we have been having is that for years down there at the railroad crossing is that all vehicles that are stickered with plaques that state 'We stop at railroad crossings,' have to, by law, stop at railroad crossings."

According to Riethmiller, that includes any vehicle that is carrying flammable material in any form. The part that concerns several, aside from the possibility of an accident involving a truck that is carrying something flammable, is that school buses also have to stop at this railroad as well.

Many traveling on this road, especially if they are not familiar with the area, do not understand why a truck is stopped in the middle of the road. Riethmiller hopes that this will prevent future accidents on Route 7.

"How we approached this was we asked to get some statements. First, we approached Norfolk Southern Railroad Co. The people who make the decision on this is the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO), and we also spoke with ODOT because they were the ones that would hang the signs," Riethmiller said. "We are very fortunate over the years that we have not had a major traffic accident with an explosion. We have had several rear end collisions with vehicles and trucks down there."

Riethmiller and the several others involved in this project want to thank the PUCO, Norfolk Southern Railroad Co., ODOT, Service Director Chuck Bennett and Superintendent of Martins Ferry Schools Dirk Fitch.

"We just want to get the word out to everyone that it is now an exempt crossing," Riethmiller said.

Van Dyne can be reached at