(Kelso, Washington – January 4, 2012)
The dangerous, unguarded private BNSF crossing where three Burlington Northern Santa Fe employees died and a fourth was seriously injured is no longer without automatic, electronic protection, as BNSF, on the railroad’s own volition, completed installation of the devices at the crossing, on BNSF property, Dec. 20.
Washington State safety officials had earlier determined that a train parked too closely to the crossing created a sight distance problem for the shuttle driver, who was among those who died in the March 23 tragedy. Meanwhile, the Federal Railroad Administration’s official report on the triple fatality should be released within the next two months.
Railroads generally stand behind “pre-emption” arguments, claiming that railroads have no authority over traffic controls at intersections of railway and public roadway, but the crossing involved in the tragedy is completely on railroad property and thus, a private crossing and ineligible for any public crossing protection improvement funds.