(Dodge Center, Minnesota – February 4, 2013)
A 22-year-old female driver from Hayfield, MN was injured Monday afternoon at about 3:00 P.M. when her vehicle was struck by a westbound Canadian Pacific freight train at the dangerous, unguarded and snow-packed crossing of Dodge County Road H and CP railroad tracks in Dodge Center, MN.
The unidentified motorist was transported to St. Mary’s Hospital in Austin, MN for treatment of undetermined injuries in a condition Dodge County Sheriff Jim Jensen described as “pretty shook up.”
“It sounded like she stopped at the stop sign (the crossing’s sole “protection” consists of a standard, passive railroad crossbuck sign and a highway stop sign, both mounted on the same pole, on either side of the extremely skewed crossing) and started inching her way out and apparently didn’t see the train,” said the sheriff, who was among the responders to the accident scene.
County Road H, which also goes by the designation of 2nd Street, NW inside the city, and 635th Street a ways beyond the railroad crossing, somewhat parallels CP railroad tracks in each direction, but then crosses at either obtuse or acute angles, dependent upon the direction of approach, making oncoming trains difficult to see.
According to Federal Railroad Administration records, Monday’s accident was the third at the crossing and the first to result in injury. There are no active protective devices such as flashing lights, bells or crossing gates at the CP/CRH crossing to guard against the four trains that traverse the crossing daily at a top allowable speed of 40 mph. Active crossing protection could, according to railroad-generated sources, help prevent as much as 90% of accidents occurring at railroad crossings.