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Car train collision raises questions of railroad crossing safety

By Pottroff & Karlin LLC |

A collision near Windsor, Colorado between a car and a train on August 1 caused no serious injuries, but it did raise questions about the safety of the railroad crossing. Residents complain that the crossing has been a problem for years. The crossing itself is bumpy, needing to be repaved, while only a crossbuck exists to warn vehicles of the crossing. No equipment is present to warn oncoming vehicles of the presence of a train – neither lights nor gates exist at the crossing.

Residents also claim that the crossing has been receiving increasing traffic loads for years now, yet the road remains dark and the crossing unprotected. With conditions like these, there is little surprise that an accident did occur here. The surprise is that no one was seriously injured or killed – at unguarded crossings (those without active warning devices like lights and gates), fatalities and serious injuries are far more likely at those crossings without active warning. On a unit-of-traffic basis, gates are 80-90% more effective than crossbucks and stop signs.

Yet officials claim that the crossing will not see improvements this year, in spite of the fact that they’ve budgeted $156,250 for this very reason. While initially planning to outfit the crossing with safety equipment and fix the pavement issues this year, town officials who entered discussions with Great Western Railroad officials say that “budgetary concerns” are now preventing any action being taken. Knowing that the town set aside $156,250 for their part, it’s kind of obvious which side is causing the holdup.


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Bob Pottroff has fought for the victims of the railroads’ callous disregard for safety more than any other attorney that I know. I should know because I am currently Chair-elect of the Railroad Section of ATLA.

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Elizabeth Hardy Lake Charles, Louisiana

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