ICC Responds to Mt. Greenwood Dangers



Whether it be the State, Village, FRA, ICC or the railroad themselves, their response to

   a high risk death area along the tracks is all to familiar. Hiding behind laws that protect

   the railroads and their “right of way”. Offering an Operation Lifesaver Representative

   to educate as to using better judgment or simply asking you to seek another avenue to

   have these safety issues corrected have become much too typical. I can not help but

   believe Jonathan Siwek deserves more than that. I can’t help but think the next victim

   deserves more. We are the ones that need to use better judgment. We can not build a

   stretch of homes on top of railroad tracks. We can not build schools and parks on

   top of railroad tracks. We need to recognize that circumstances like those existing

   in  Mt. Greenwood are exceptional and that necessary safety measures must be taken

   that will prevent further loss of life. Costs, inconvenience and fears of liability must

   take a back seat when lives are at stake.








Mr. Zukowski - Thank you for providing me with a link to the kristenslaw
website.  After reviewing the website, it appears your concerns involve
several issues:

-- Access to the railroad right-of-way
-- Condition of the railroad track
-- Proximity of the railroad right-of-way to schools and parks

If that is correct, I recommend you work with local public officials and
school administrators to better educate residents about safe activities
near railroad tracks.  By copy of the email message I will ask the
Coordinator for Illinois Operation Lifesaver, a non-profit organization
committed to providing public education on railroad safety, to contact
you.  Operation Lifesaver presentations are a tremendous help in getting
local residents to understand the need to use good judgement near
railroad tracks.

For your information, I would like to offer a few points of interest:

1)   ACCESS TO THE RR RIGHT-OF-WAY: it is the responsibility of the
public to not trespass on a railroad's right-of-way.  State law (625
ILCS 5/18c-7503) prohibits any person from walking, riding, or driving
upon or along the right-of-way or rail yard of a rail carrier with the
state of Illinois, at any place other that a  public crossing.  

2) CONDITION OF THE RAILROAD TRACK: The fact that some ties may
appear to be worn does not necessarily mean that the track condition is
unsafe.  Every mile of railroad track in Illinois is inspected on a
regular basis by state and federal inspectors.  Any track conditions
that do not meet minimum federal regulations are noted and brought to
the owner railroad's attention immediately; the owner railroad is
required to make the necessary repairs within 30 days.

3) FENCING OF RR RIGHT-OF-WAY:  State law (625 ILCS 5/18c-7504)
does not require that a rail carrier install fencing along its
right-of-way within cities, incorporated towns and villages.  If your
group is concerned about limiting public access to the railroad
right-of-way, I recommend you work with local officials to discuss the
issue with the owner railroad, Canadian National (CN).  Contact
Information for an official with CN is noted below:

James Kvedaras
Sr. Mgr. - U.S. Public & Gov't Affairs
Canadian National
17641 Ashland Avenue
Homewood, IL  60430-1345
(708) 332-3508
I trust this information will be helpful.  If you have any questions,
please contact me.

Michael E. Stead
Rail Safety Program Administrator
Illinois Commerce Commission
527 E. Capitol Avenue
Springfield, IL  62701
(217) 557-1285