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West Newton 'safety blitz' to focus on railroads

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Tuesday, Aug. 13, 2013, 12:01 a.m.

West Newton emergency management officials and CSX Corp. plan to join forces in October to conduct a “safety blitz” in the community to increase the public's awareness of the dangers around the rails and educate residents to make safe decisions at crossings and around railroad tracks.

Paul Williams, West Newton's emergency management director, told borough council Monday that CSX is sponsoring Operation Lifesaver Inc. in the community and that it will involve distributing leaflets to motorists at the railroad crossing on East Main Street. The initiative probably will occur in early October and will not cost the borough any money, Williams said.

CSX, which is based in Jacksonville, Fla., owns the railroad tracks that run through the town.

Operation Lifesaver is a nonprofit, nationwide public education program based in Alexandria, Va., and dedicated to eliminating collision, deaths, and injuries at highway-rail intersections and on railroad rights-of-way.

There were 232 fatalities at railroad crossings across the nation in 2012, and 934 nonfatal accidents, among the 1,967 incidents at railroad crossings nationwide, according to the Federal Railroad Administration Office of Safety Analysis.

There also were 435 people killed and 408 injured last year in incidents involving trespassing on railroad property, the federal railroad agency said.

In other matters, Williams said emergency management officials in the borough want to develop and distribute a half-page survey for senior citizens and other residents who might need assistance in case of emergencies. Those residents might be ones who rely on oxygen tanks to breathe or who use a wheelchair, Williams said.

Joe Napsha is a staff writer for Trib Total Media.

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