(Alburnett, Iowa – April 17, 2015)
News reporters seemed as confused as motorists who attempt to navigate the dangerous and unguarded crossing of Roosevelt Street and Canadian National subsidiary Chicago, Central & Pacific Railway in the Linn County, IA community of Alburnett as a serious accident occurred at about 3:30 P.M., CDT Friday afternoon.
New Vienna, IA resident Casey Demmer, 24, was driving a flatbed truck carrying a very large excavator when the cab of his tractor was struck by the train and he was ejected from the driver’s seat.
Officers of the Linn County Sheriff’s Office told KGAN-TV, Channel 2, CBS, as well as KCRG-TV, in Cedar Rapids that the victim was conscious and able to communicate with officers and first responders before he was whisked away to St. Luke’s Hospital in Cedar Rapids for serious, but non-life threatening injuries.
The CNR/CC&P tracks cut through the small community diagonally, with the intersection of the two streets and the tracks about a half-block away from each other, and the perpendicular intersection of the two streets just beyond the railroad.
According to the Federal Railroad Administration, the crossing accommodates only two trains daily at a maximum allowable speed of 40 mph. As mentioned, the crossing lacks any active warning devices, such as lights and gates. It is virtually certain that if equipped with lights and gates this accident would not have happened. Both Canadian National and Operation Lifesaver know that lights and gates are the most effective type of protection at railroad crossings. Studies that have been conducted over fifty years ago confirm that lights and gates offer the ability to drastically reduce the number of vehicle/train accidents by as much as 96%.
Local mother Mary Owen expressed concern over the lack of signalization at the crossing, citing both her caution to her children to “stop if they can’t see” as well as an earlier accident involving a teen driver at that crossing in 2007.