Railroad crossings near Cameron to get upgrades

State will pay bulk of cost for signals, gates

 

By Stephen Geinosky and Stacey Creasy

GateHouse Media

CAMERON - A pair of railroad crossings near Cameron will be armed with warning lights and gates at no cost to local governments.

The Illinois Commerce Commission has approved the final plans for both crossings. Automatic flashing light signals and gates will be installed at the railroad crossings at 130th Street and at 165th Street.

The 165th Street crossing, known locally as the Surrey Crossing, is the site where an unidentified woman stepped into the path of an oncoming freight train on Aug. 1. The train struck and killed the woman, who has yet to be identified. However, according to Mike Stead, ICC Rail Program safety administrator, the incident involving the unidentified woman was not the reason the crossing at 165th Street will be upgraded.

The upgrade at the 165th Street crossing will cost an estimated $184,731. The Grade Crossing Protection Fund will be used to pay 95 percent of the warning device installation costs, not to exceed $175,494.

The upgrade at the 130th Street crossing will cost an estimated $202,732. The Grade Crossing Protection Fund will be used to pay 95 percent of the warning device installation costs, not to exceed $192,595. BNSF Railway will pay the remaining warning device installation costs, as well as all future operating and maintenance costs.

Both crossings have been the sites for a number of train-vehicle collisions. According to Brian Sterling, public information officer for ICC, there are three ways that railroad crossings could be looked at for upgrades.

"There can be a trend that our staff thinks we should address, the local municipality could come to us saying they want to change one or the railroad company could come to us," Sterling said.

Stead said that the trends, which include highway traffic volumes, any increase in train volumes, train speeds, highway traffic speeds and any previous collisions, are all a part of a formula to help decide if a crossing needs to be examined. If the final value from the formula, which compiles each factor, is higher than .01, which means it is estimated that there will be one accident every 10 years, the crossing is reviewed.

Stead explained that while a combination of all the trends went into the decision of upgrading the crossings, one of the most influential reasons was that both crossings have two railroad tracks.

"Normally, with two-track crossings we take a look at those," Stead said. "Studies in the past have proven that there's more likely for a collision to occur at a multiple train crossing."

BNSF will pay the remaining warning device installation costs, as well as all future operating and maintenance costs.

BNSF also is paying the entire cost to reconstruct the existing crossing surfaces, as well as all future maintenance costs.

It will take about a year to do the work, according to officials at the ICC. The estimated completion date is Sept. 12, 2008.

The projects are funded by motor fuel tax money. The Illinois General Assembly appropriates $27 million each year for the upgrade work.

 

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