City, Lions develop safety plan for Halloween parade

Finalizing the plans for this year’s Halloween parade in Vandalia have included developing a strategy to prevent a tragedy like the one that occurred just prior to last year’s parade.
Mayor Rick Gottman announced at Monday’s city council meeting that he and Police Chief Jeff Ray met with members of the Vandalia Lions Club, the sponsor of the parade, to finalize a safety plan for motorists and pedestrians.
Ray has been working on such a plan in light of a fatal accident at the Sixth Street rail crossing last year.
Just minutes before the 2014 Halloween parade, a northbound van driven by a Greenville woman was struck by an eastbound train as it was crossing the tracks at Sixth Street. That woman and three children in the van sustained fatal injuries.
Ray said that on the night of the parade, the Lions Club will station a member near the tracks to police vehicle and pedestrian traffic. Gottman said that measure is being taken “because of the way it (Sixth Street crossing) is set up.”
Closure of the crossings on the night of the parade had been discussed, but Ray said, “I don’t know that that alleviates the problem.”
Closing the crossings to vehicle traffic means that there would be more people walking across the tracks, which doesn’t eliminate the possibility of an accident.
Gottman explained that the plan for the Halloween parade also includes asking CSX Railroad to slow trains through town next Thursday evening.
“We’re going to try to get them to crawl through town at slower speeds,” Gottman said.
He said that he has made that request through emails and that he will follow up with phone calls in days prior to the parade to make sure the message gets across.
The mayor will also ask that trains be slowed through town during Olde Tyme Christmas in downtown Vandalia on Friday evening, Nov. 13.
The follow-up calls, Gottman said, are being made because the city made such a request following the collapse of the roof on a building a block away at the beginning of August.
The rail company agreed to the request, but trains slowed for only two or three hours, the mayor said.
“I’d like to get them to slow down all of the time, to be honest with you,” Gottman said, 55-65 mph through here is pretty high.”
The safety plan for next Thursday’s parade will also include not lining up parade entries north of Gallatin Street on Eighth Street. Gottman said entries will the lineup will be extended further south on Eighth Street and/or west on Gallatin.
“We want to stay far away from the railroad tracks,” he said.
 

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