(York, Nebraska – July 12, 2012)
Following two tragic accidents, separated by a week back in July, 2009, a York County, NE commissioner began a crusade for all of the county’s non-signalized grade crossings to be equipped with passive highway “stop” signs.
A week after a van carrying a family of seven had been hit by a Burlington Northern Santa Fe freight train at a dangerous, unguarded York County crossing, a vehicle carrying four teenagers was hit by a BNSF train at another non-signalized crossing, this time killing three and seriously injuring a fourth.
County Commissioner Gene Bergen said “This is a safety issue. We can’t let another person lose their life or get hurt at one of our many grade crossings. We need stop signs. This needs to happen.”
By participating in the Federal Railroad Administration’s “Advance Railroad Crossing Federal Aid Project,” York County and former commissioner Bergen will get their stop signs – about 50 of them, with the county agreeing to provide the labor to erect them while BNSF funds the signs themselves.
Just how much safer stop signs will make York County railroad crossings is anybody’s guess, but the basic concept is that needed automatic protection like flashing lights, bells and crossing gates – devices that CAN save lives – will never be at these crossings, since a less expensive and maintenance-free alternative will negate the possibility of better protection for motorists and less responsibility taken by the railroad or the county.