A 17-year-old student from Peetz, Colorado lost her life at a railroad crossing on Easter Sunday while trying to cross railroad tracks. Angela Goranson stopped short of the crossing to wait for an incoming eastbound UP train to pass. Seeing that the train had past and knowing of no signs of danger, she began crossing, only to be hit by an oncoming westbound UP train. Had there been active, functioning warning signs, this tragedy would not have taken place.
Citizens of Dale, Wisconsin may be seeing new active warning devices at four railroad crossings. The area is under investigation to see if it merits the funding. Funding would come from a mix of state and federal money. One interesting thing to note is that these crossings haven’t been the objects of complaint – neither accidents nor other serious problems have been happening at these crossings.
A potentially dangerous spill south of LA occurred when two rail cars carrying hazardous materials derailed into a local waterway. Officials claim that the leak has been contained, and no injuries have been reported. A total of five cars from BNSF derailed in the rail yard 20 miles south of downtown LA. It is a relief that the spill was contained, though the potential for disaster in the accident was very high. That no injuries are known of is a miracle. Hopefully BNSF takes the cue and makes some attempts at fixing safety problems at the setting – but don’t count on it.
Columbia County, Oregon decided to thoroughly investigate the railroads and rail crossings and came up with a huge list of needed improvements. While any time railroad safety needs are being addressed is a good time, it is sad that the railroad companies themselves, who are making profits off of using these lands, are not spending any of their money on these improvements. They leave it up to the public.
A long-time railroad worker with BNSF is filing suit against them for a whole host of issues he claims he has developed from his time with them – from neck and spine problems to psychological trauma. While we explicitly do not represent or advocate for railroad employees in order to maintain the integrity of our firm, it is nevertheless worth noting (and quite sadly, not surprising) how consistently bad railroads treat not only the public, but in many cases their workers as well. The list of problems this man is suffering from is pretty tragic.
Pineville, Louisiana residents are in a fuss about a plan to remove an overpass and replace it with a crossing in order to save money. This man claims that a railroad crossing is absolutely a terrible idea, regardless of costs. “A minimal examination of accident statistics would overwhelmingly concur with retaining an overpass regardless of cost.” The man also claims that, “We have electronic devices available that would perform whatever task necessary to warn motorists of approaching trains — whether it is mechanical arms, lights, sirens or a combination thereof.
A family trying to cross a railroad crossing in their friend’s borrowed SUV narrowly escaped a great tragedy. The crossing is outfitted with a gate, but the gate was up and not functioning properly when they began crossing. The gate came down as they were on top of the tracks, blocking them in. They were faced with a decision: try to run, or try to back up and break the gate?
As part of the Recovery Act, Amtrak is receiving 1.3 billion in grant funding. This has the potential to turn into good news, though there are no guarantees with railroad companies. Vice President Biden said that “For too long, we haven’t made the investments we needed to make Amtrak as safe, as reliable, as secure as it can be.” If Amtrak uses money for safety improvements, we will all be grateful. Either way, this is a fresh reminder that railroads are here to stay in the American economy, into the 21st century.
Continued examination of last year’s deadly crash in Chatsworth (which killed 25 and injured 135) has alarmed officials to the lack of safety regulations and enforcement of the existing regulations for railroads. While cell phone usage was and is a big problem, officials are realizing that the problem runs a lot deeper. Hopefully the effort will be ongoing and won’t stop short of some valuable and greatly needed safety legislation.
Statewide railroads say they aren’t opposed to a safety program that could provide more workers to inspect Louisiana rail tracks and crossings… So long as they don’t have to pay a dime for it. It is a tragedy that rail companies continue in their resistance to safety in an effort to hold on to their dollars. However, it is a consistent trend. Railroads have created an implicit policy: if it costs us money, it’s not our responsibility. Claiming that safety improvements are desirable and then refusing to lift a finger demonstrates hypocrisy.