(Arlington, Vermont – January 11, 2016)
A 78-year-old Shaftsbury, VT driver was seriously hurt at the dangerous and unguarded intersection of the Vermont Railway and Cemetery Road in Arlington, VT shortly after 1:00 P.M., EST Monday afternoon when the 2001 Saab 95 station wagon he was driving was struck on the front passenger side quarter panel by a southbound Vermont Railway freight train.
The motorist, Arthur J. Odea, was still belted in his vehicle, which Arlington Fire Chief Jamie Paustian termed “a total loss,” but was able to escape the wreckage without assistance. The victim was evaluated and treated for head injuries at the scene by Arlington Rescue Squad personnel.
The lack of active warning, such as lights and gates, as well as the questionable placement of regulatory and advisory signs at the unusually-designed crossing were clearly factors in the accident, which occurred at a crossing where the Federal Railroad Administration website says a pair of VTR trains crosses daily at a maximum allowable speed of 30 mph. It is virtually certain that if this crossing was equipped with lights and gates, this collision would not have happened. Both Vermont Railway 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%
“The crossing is marked with railroad (cross-buck), yield and stop signs, but there are no warning lights or crossing gates to block the tracks,” reported Staff Writer Edward Damon of The Manchester Journal, adding that “Drivers must stop before they can cross the railroad tracks and turn left or right on Route 7A,” which closely parallels the VTR tracks.
Many investigative agencies, led by the Vermont State Police, responded to the incident.