Visibility at Railroad Crossings: Who is Responsible You Get the Signal? - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

4/26/04

Visibility at Railroad Crossings: Who is Responsible You Get the Signal?

Two teenagers escaped injury after they drove into the side of a moving train over the weekend.

On Saturday night, the teens were driving North of Lubbock on Keuka Street. The driver apparently did not see the Burlington Northern Santa Fe train and tried to drive over the crossing, hitting one of the train's cars. The vehicle was badly damaged, but no one was hurt.

The crossing is marked with a sign, but there are no crossing lights to illuminate the sign at night. So who decides what markings a railroad crossing receives? NewsChannel 11 found out that who's responsible, it depends on who you ask.  If more than crossbacks are needed, Burlington Northern Santa Fe says it's up to the municipality to let them know. Spokesman, Joel Faust, says, "Those decisions on how a crossing is protected actually are determined by the municipality.  There are federal and state funds to help the community pay for those crossings."

Faust says Burlington Northern Santa Fe will partner with the Texas Department of Trasportation to install flashing lights or crossing arms if the municipality determines they're needed. Lubbock city and county officials, though, say they're not sure that's their responsibility. 

City of Lubbock officials tell us there are railroad crossings in the city they need more than crossbacks.  They are currently in the process of figuring out exactly who is responsible to change signs there.

As for county railroad crossings like the one where a car collided with a train this weekend, county commissioners tell us they're soley the responsibility of the railroad. Commissioner, Patty Jones says, "For what information I have from working with the railroad on that, that becomes their decision as to what kind of markings go on what crossings.. whether it's a railroad sign or lights or crossbars.  So, that actually doesn't get to be a county decision we make."

Jones does say, if citizens are concerned about a particular railroad crossing, they can contact the commission and the commission can make a recommendation for more signage.

Since the railroad and local officials had differing opinions on who's responsible, NewsChannel 11 called the TxDOT, who said both the railroad and municipalities share responsibility.

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