Editorial: Railroad Crossings



January 18, 2008

This week saw more tragedy at a railroad crossing in Eastabutchie with two young people losing their lives in a car-train collision.   These were not the first fatalities at this particular crossing and occurred only a short distance from another, more heavily used crossing, where the frequency of car-train accidents, several of them fatal, ultimately prompted the installation of automatic crossing gates and lights.  We editorialized for the timely installation of the safety feature and there were public demonstrations that got it done sooner than originally planned after two fatal accidents within weeks of each other.   There was a proposal on the part of MDOT to close the crossing where the most recent accident took place back in 2000...but there was a strong public reaction against the closing and so it stayed open.  The funding to install crossing gates and lights depends on a joint partnership between the rail road and MDOT, with the state normally buying the material and the railroad doing the installation.  A spokesman for the state Department of Transportation told News-7 that a traffic flow study would be made and a recommendation made to the county in the future.  On such a heavily traveled railway, in a rapidly growing area, we would like to see crossing guards at every railroad crossing.  That may or may not ever be the case.  Consequently, we would urge all motorists to apply the old "stop, look, and listen" adage to every crossing.  Come to a complete stop approaching every railroad.  Look both ways.  Keep all your senses keen...and never try to beat a locomotive.  They are coming much faster than they seem.  A so-called rolling stop isn't good enough.  We care...and we urge you to take all precaution to minimize the inherent danger where passenger vehicles and trains intersect.  Do whatever it takes to avert additional tragedy.  I'm Jim Cameron...let us know what you think.