(Columbia, South Carolina – June 21, 2011)
To commemorate the death of a young man, John Malcom Brabham III, a new South Carolina state law called “John’s Law” will require the SCDOT to significantly reduce the number of crossings lacking gates in the future. John was killed in a car/train crash in Sumter County at a CSX railroad crossing that lacked gates in July, 2009.
“John’s Law” requires SCDOT to inform the public of the locations of railroad crossings where it plans to install crossing arms and to immediately place traffic stop signs at extremely dangerous locations until money is available to install crossing arms. Officials say they are “in the process” of installing crossing arms at the crossing where Brabham was killed, and are also working to place locations of dangerous, ungated crossings on the SCDOT website in order to comply with the new law.
They expect to have the site up and running in a few weeks, but that is not all the agency will be required to accomplish under the new law. With the $4 million in federal grade crossing safety funds South Carolina receives annually, SCDOT will also have to increase the number of crossing gates it installs each year. Currently, SCDOT says it can only afford to upgrade 16 to 20 railroad crossings with gates annually, and when asked by news media representatives how many of the state’s 2600 public railroad crossings lack crossing gates, SCDOT officials were unable to provide an accurate figure. Candace Mathews, a friend of John Brabham, feels that “John’s Law” is a good effort, but she still wants to one day see crossing gates at all railroad grade crossings in South Carolina.