(Greenwood, Indiana – January 26, 2015)
The mayors of four south central Indiana communities are up in arms over a plan by the CSX Railway to upgrade their tracks along a line between Indianapolis, IN and Louisville, KY in order to accommodate an additional 10 to 15 freight trains daily, more than triple the current 15 mph speeds to 49 mph, and ignore completely any increase in active signal protective devices for grade crossings along the rail line.
Greenwood, IN Mayor Mark Myers is leading the charge to acquire more lights, bells and gates at the crossings in and around his community as well as the cities of Franklin, Columbus and Seymour, and their frustrated pleas are being directed toward their congressional delegation in the nation’s capital.
Mayor Meyers explained to Indianapolis WTVR-TV Reporter Jennie Runevitch that “16,000 cars a day at this crossing alone and they’re going to be going through here at 50 mph. That’s a lot of cars and a lot of people and a lot of lives in danger.”
Continuing, the Greenwood chief elected official was worried. “All of the communities south of here, we’re all in the same boat,” he told the TV reporter. “They’ve denied us all the same requests of crossing arms, upgraded lights and upgraded bells. They say what we’ve got is enough, and it’s not.” Myers said the powers-that-be’s reasoning is an insufficient number of documented accidents to warrant new safety measures.
The communities’ argument gets the full agreement of “Arms of Life” co-founder Brady Clements, who told WTVR that “Increasing the speed, the size (of trains) – those factors increase the severity of the accidents exponentially. The railroads want to continue to operate in our communities, but don’t seem to provide safe passage for our people that live here,” stated Clements. “How many accidents? How many deaths do we need to meet their criteria?” asked the safety activist, whose organization solicited public and private donations amounting to $750,000 for active crossing protection at four crossings in Indiana’s White River Township after the tragic deaths of two brothers and serious injury to three other occupants of an SUV at the dangerous, unguarded intersection of Indiana Railroad tracks and Stones Crossing/County Road 700 on Super Bowl Sunday, February 3, 2007.
“None of us can imagine how awful it was,” says Clements of the tragedy, but added that, after installation of active crossing protection, “The accidents which were happening there (the four formerly unprotected crossings) have all but disappeared.”