Railroad safety questions raised after fatal accident - KCBD NewsChannel 11 Lubbock

Railroad safety questions raised after fatal accident

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LUBBOCK, TX (KCBD) -

It was around 4:30 p.m. Monday afternoon when a train crashed into a cotton module truck northwest of Shallowater.

It happened at a crossing along Highway 84 at Farm Road 2378. The only warning sign at that crossing was a white cross with the words "Railroad Crossing." Many other crossings along Highway 84 have train activated warning devices, so we wanted to know who decides what type should be placed?

"If the crossing is on-system then we follow the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices guidelines. If its off-system and the crossing is part of the Federal Signal Program, then a diagnostics team is formed, (composed of TxDOT, the county—the city if the crossing is within the municipality - and railroad company) and they make the determination on which warning signs to implement," said Veronica Beyer, director of media relations at TxDOT. "There a number of factors, such as: sight-distances, changes in elevation, historical incidents at the intersection, number of trains crossing at the intersection and the average daily traffic at the railroad crossing."

Beyer says the average cost for a signal crossing is $150,000. That funding has to come from the municipality the train runs through. Once the funding is in place, the train company will install and maintain the lights and gate.

"Approximately 60 percent of the 9,800 public crossings have train-activated warning devices. Many remaining passive crossings are very low traffic, low train volume crossings. We continue to install new warning systems under the Federal Railroad Signal Program administered by TxDOT," Beyer said.

First responders pronounced the truck driver, 35-year-old Mario Flores of McAllen, Texas, dead at the scene.

They say Flores was stopped on the tracks when the train hit his truck and Beyer says if there is an accident at a crossing they will do everything they can to make it safer.

"Safety is our top priority. If we see steps that can be taken to improve safety at the crossing, that are within our jurisdiction, then we will do so. TxDOT, for example, would be able to add signing, striping or warning flashing beacons to the intersection."

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