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Archive for Sunday, February 19, 2012

Kansas train-related fatality rate stubbornly steady

February 19, 2012

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This Union Pacific crossing is northeast of Lawrence and clearly marked. The rest of the country has seen dramatic drops in train fatalities in the past two decades, but Kansas’ numbers have remained steady, with about 16 fatalities per year.

This Union Pacific crossing is northeast of Lawrence and clearly marked. The rest of the country has seen dramatic drops in train fatalities in the past two decades, but Kansas’ numbers have remained steady, with about 16 fatalities per year.

Train accidents, by the numbers

Nonfatal accidents in Kansas in 2011: 232

• Fatal: 19

• Nonfatal accidents in the United States in 2011: 10,038

• Fatal: 644

Kansas counties with highest number of fatality train accidents since 1992:

• Johnson: 19

• Sedgwick: 16

• Shawnee: 16

• Butler: 15

• Sumner: 10

• Douglas: 9

Source: Federal Railroad Adminstration.

On a clear Friday afternoon last February, Kyle Snyder, 22, of Lecompton, hit the brakes on his pickup truck as he approached the railroad tracks on East 950 Road northwest of Lawrence.

Sliding on the snow-packed gravel road, Snyder’s truck couldn’t stop in time, and he was killed after colliding with a BNSF train chugging away at 50 mph. The crossing where the fatality occurred is identified by crossbuck signs but does not have flashing lights or gates.

Snyder’s death was the second train-related fatality in Douglas County in the past decade. In 2006 Jeannie NewMoon, 53, was struck and killed by a train while walking on the North Second Street overpass in North Lawrence.

Snyder would be one of 19 people killed by trains in Kansas through the first 11 months of 2011, according to statistics from the Federal Railroad Administration.

While the rest of the country has seen dramatic drops in train fatalities during the past 20 years — from 1,170 in 1992 to 644 in 2011 — Kansas’s numbers remain steady, about 16 per year. Douglas County has nine fatalities over than time, and Johnson County leads the state with 19.

There doesn’t seem to be a clear reason why the Kansas numbers haven’t dropped.

“Your guess is as good as mine,” said Darlene Osterhaus, director of the train-safety organization Kansas Operation Lifesaver. Since joining the organization in 2006, Osterhaus has helped coordinate hundreds of workshops across the state to increase awareness of the dangers of trains.

The two types of incidents that are not related to a train malfunction or derailment are categorized as crossing collisions, such as Snyder’s crash, and trespass incidents, when someone is struck by a train as he or she walks on the tracks, such as in NewMoon’s case.

In addition to education and trainings, adding gates and lights to intersections can help reduce incidents and fatalities, Osterhaus said, but that’s not always enough.

Some drivers will drive around gates, or, if road conditions are hazardous, might slide through intersections. Nearly 50 percent of collisions occur at intersections equipped with gates or other warning devices, she said. In Snyder’s collision, where he tried to stop but slid, gates or lights may not have made a difference.

In Kansas, about 65 percent of the roughly 5,200 train crossings are equipped only with stop signs or “crossbucks,” the white X sign with “railroad crossing” written on them, said Mitch Sothers, engineer with the Kansas Department of Transportation. Sothers helps install other warning devices, paid for with federal money. But the funding is limited, and Sothers said KDOT is only able to add warning devices to about 50 train crossings per year.

Marmie Edwards, spokeswoman for the national branch of Operation Lifesaver, said the percentage of train crossings with warning devices varies by state, from 20 percent to 50 percent. But it wouldn’t be economically feasible to place devices at all crossings nationwide, she said.

When it comes to those killed when walking on train tracks, it’s not clear how many are suicides, Edwards said, as those statistics historically were not kept. In Kansas, trespass deaths account for about a quarter of train-related fatalities.

In the nonsuicide cases, Edwards said a lack of safety awareness comes from a public perception of slow moving trains blowing their whistles and flowing through small towns at 30 or 40 mph. But with time, trains have sped up, and in a state like Kansas, they move through frequently, she said.

“The public hasn’t caught up with that,” she said. “There’s still a ways to go.”

Comments

Horsewagled 2 years, 5 months ago

Google Map and zoom in on 1970 East 950 Road Lawrence United States

http://csx-sucks.com/SiteDist.pdf. Take this sight triangle chart that must go with the POS cross buck railroad signs for them to be legal and tell me where the man slaughter charges on the STATE,FEDS,COUNTY,STATE,RAILROAD and especially the LIP SERVICE OPERATION LIFESAVER phonies are.

Also please remove all the character slamming trespassing statements and replace with pedestrians ran down like dogs by greedy railroads.---By state law they weren't trespassing till a court says so.

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Ron Holzwarth 2 years, 5 months ago

"character slamming trespassing statements "

Someone is apparently not aware that the railway right of way is private property.

If taken at face value, his claim means that I wouldn't be trespassing inside his home after sneaking in at night until after "a court says so."

"pedestrians ran down like dogs by greedy railroads."

Is it really true that train engineers drive their trains off the tracks in order to chase pedestrians?

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Horsewagled 2 years, 5 months ago

"""Someone is apparently not aware that the railway right of way is private property.""" Exactly ---To be a trespasser you have to know your trespassing which hadn't been proved in court.

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Ron Holzwarth 2 years, 5 months ago

Every child is supposed to learn in grade school that the railway tracks are private property.

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Horsewagled 2 years, 5 months ago

Then in drivers training every teenager is taught not to drive like a idiot with no brakes or steering. But somehow the railroads find those that are a special kind of dumb to do it in trains. I always wonder if they were required to run the trains in a a bubble on front of the battering ram if that would make them like bubble double a special kind of dumb.

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Horsewagled 2 years, 5 months ago

We're reading icy roads and seeing all kinds of sight obstructions here but Congress is seeing

= Crossing ID005878X= On Feb 04, 2011 a FREIGHT TRAIN operated by BNSF Rwy Co. [BNSF] hit a PICKUP TRUCK at approximately 12:05PM in Kansas in DOUGLAS county on E 950 road. The incident was not in a city or town. The rail equipment was reported to have been traveling at 053 Mph with 3 locomotive(s) and 47 cars(s). The PICKUP TRUCK had been traveling in a northerly direction at 002 Mph. The railroad was operating on main line track over a public road crossing. It was clear, during the day and the temperature was 30. There were 1 death(s) and 0 injured in this incident and a Railroad Injury/Illness Report (form FRA-55a) was also filed. The 22 year old male driver was moving on the crossing and was reported to have not stopped. There were 1 occupant(s) in the vehicle. The view of the track was not obstructed. The railroad was transporting hazardous material. The crossing was protected by: Crossbucks

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Horsewagled 2 years, 5 months ago

Just wondering if Marmie Edwards, spokeswoman for the national branch of Operation Lifesaver and Darlene Osterhaus, director of the train-safety organization Kansas Operation Lifesaver have read the New York Times take on OLI? Sure sounds like that paper has you pegged.

"""Osterhaus has helped coordinate hundreds of workshops across the state to increase awareness of the dangers of trains."" Is there a list of these workshops? Only time I see OLI rear their heads is to call out the evil doer drivers and dirty rotten trespassers following the railroads mass trail of death and destruction. A booth at the state fair counting everyone that enters isn't really railroad safety is it Darlene Osterhaus? http://www.nytimes.com/2004/11/14/national/14rail.html Safety Group Closely Echoes Rail Industry """..But documents show that the organization is tightly bound to the railroad industry, and critics, including many accident victims, say the group's message serves another agenda: to inoculate the railroads against liability in grade-crossing collisions.."""

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Ron Holzwarth 2 years, 5 months ago

A train always has the right of way. It's as simple as that.

The only time a railway company has any liability is if a train crossing marker or a train crossing warning is malfunctioning due to the railway company's negligence. Or, perhaps in case of a derailment.

And if a railway crossing marker or warning is not there or is malfunctioning due to vandalism, they're not responsible at all.

If you don't want to be killed by a train, stay off the train company's private property. Is that so difficult to understand?

(Yes it is, for some people.)

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Horsewagled 2 years, 5 months ago

The acorn was planted at the edge of the crossing---grow big with low hanging branches Oak tree. I don't want the train to see me coming. And the tree did.

40 years ago the property owner on the other side of the road was contacted. "Mr. Property OWNER you really need to build a 40 foot by 40 foot unattached storage shed. Make sure it's right on the edge of the railroads right of way and like 10 feet off the traveled road because I don't want the train to see me coming." And the property owner did.

Then BNSF mow was contacted 22 years ago. Don't you dare cut that brush or trim those weeds between the storage building and tracks at this crossing BNSF because I don't want the train to see me coming. And they didn't.

The big truck service garage was contacted about making sure the tree trimming wood chipping box trucks were backed up within 20 feet of the tracks because I don't want the train to see me coming. And the box trucks were sitting right in the way as instructed.

When BNSF was replacing crossing lights with gates at the next three crossings right up the tracks they were told to go ahead and steal those lights to improve the RRs profit margin and not move the lights to the next three un-signaled crossings because I don't want to know a train is coming. And BNSF stole the crossing lights and increased their profit margin.

Then at the BNSF safety meeting they were told although this crossing is marked with public whistle signs ignore them at this private crossing. Go ahead and don't blow the train whistles at this crossing because I don't want to hear the train coming. And no train horns were sounded.

The BNSF engineer was specially instructed not to blow his train horns because he loved blowing his train horns. Thought he might be tempted to blow horns at this crossing where another suicide had slid on the icy road at the blind crossing committing suicide because I don't want to hear the train coming.And no train horns were sounded.

To be extra sure to use TRAIN --all knives,guns,razor blades,drugs, carbon monoxide, flammables, ropes, etc...were thrown away.

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Horsewagled 2 years, 5 months ago

Boy BNSF must not no more suicides at this crossing. The tree is gone where the train can see people coming--the brush is gone where the train can see people coming---the trucks are gone where the train can see people coming. The $50,000 crossing lights/gates BNSF screwed the tax-payers a couple hundred thousand on at the now designated public crossing with train whistles really screw it up for people that want to commit suicide and don't want to know the train is coming.

Now I'm thinking my marine buddy private Hull who did the full metal jacket thing with both barrels of a 12 gauge at his wife/kids grave must of been depressed because the railroad didn't let him commit suicide too. You know in the narrow crossing hang up suicide pits the railroads furnish that work so well on slick roads. Guess his nightly nightmares waking up screaming "NO" wasn't because his wife and kid where stuck in the vehicle and he couldn't get them out before the train came but actually he was dreaming the railroad was removing the suicide pits.

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Ron Holzwarth 2 years, 5 months ago

I knew Jeannie NewMoon, although I did not know her well.

The coverage in this article does not seem to coincide with the coverage in the August 16, 2006 edition of the LJWorld.com.

In this article it is stated that "In 2006 Jeannie NewMoon, 53, was struck and killed by a train while walking on the North Second Street overpass in North Lawrence."

But in August 16, 2006, it was stated "Railroad officials said it happened as she appeared to be trying to remove something from the train tracks."

and

"Sunshine NewMoon and another sister, Albertta, said they'd been told by police that a railroad employee saw NewMoon trying to remove a bicycle that was stuck on the tracks."

From my recollections of conversations with friends about her death, she was crossing the train tracks with a friend, and both of them were walking their bicycles. Her bicycle somehow got stuck in the train tracks, and she struggled to remove it. But she struggled with it too long, and was hit and killed by the train.

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Horsewagled 2 years, 5 months ago

4.06 - Casualty Detail Report RIDING http://www.nrc.uscg.mil/reports/rwservlet?standard_web+inc_seq=807615 Railroad Involved: UNION PACIFIC RAILROAD Railroad Milepost: 39.67 813758L 2ND ST(BRIDGE ST)

Putting like three reports together ---according to UP she was riding on the 2nd street bridge. Crossing # 813758L. Of course the local cops let the video and train black box go and never checked why the train didn't get stopped.

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Horsewagled 2 years, 5 months ago

"""Sothers helps install other warning devices, paid for with federal money. But the funding is limited, and Sothers said KDOT is only able to add warning devices to about 50 train crossings per year."""

Question for Mitch Sothers, engineer with the Kansas Department of Transportation. http://www.ksdot.org/burProgProjMgmt/STIP/stip0912/stiphome0912.asp Kansas gets $6,158,571 a year from the Feds and the state matches 10 %.

In your 4 year pig latin state transportation plan I see little on railroads. Nothing with the DOT assigned crossing numbers the projects are supposed to be listed under. Being a gentleman and scholar you should have no problem listing the 200 crossings you all fixed up with the tax-payers $26 million or so the last 4 years would you? http://www.ksdot.org/burProgProjMgmt/STIP/stip0912/stiphome0912.asp

Now tell the truth Mitch ---you let the railroads do all the work and charge US whatever they want now don't you?

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ddayot 2 years, 5 months ago

Your guess is as good as mine,” said Darlene Osterhaus, director of the train-safety organization Kansas Operation Lifesaver. Since joining the organization in 2006............well keep up the great work Darlene. Seems like six years and you've got it all figured out!

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Clickker 2 years, 5 months ago

It seems like a rather simple thing to do is to add flashing lights at all train intersections. The cost in lives is worth it. Just dumb not to have those.

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Horsewagled 2 years, 5 months ago

Well Clikker all the railroads know is $$$$. Even though the tax-payers pay for all the crossing signals which railroads over charge us on big time (like four crossings could be done for the price of one) for the equipment and labor putting the signals in the RR has to pay somebody to take care of the signals. Plus the railroad should have to pay somebody to keep the brush cut out around so drivers and pedestrians can see at the crossings which they don't. The cost - benefit ratio to the railroad makes/saves the RR money to KILL PEOPLE and pay off the families rather than have the proper safety equipment in place. Ain't that right Mitch, Mammie, and Darlene?

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Ron Holzwarth 2 years, 5 months ago

It would probably be more cost effective in saving lives to put barrier medians on Interstates and highways, especially K-10. There have been a lot more lives lost on K-10 between Lawrence and Kansas City alone than have been killed by trains in the whole state of Kansas in the last ten years.

Of course, an exact cost/benefit analysis is much more complex than that simple statement.

But I might also point out that it is "Just dumb" to not watch out for railroad crossing signs. They are just as important as stop signs, really they are. And speaking of stop signs, people run those quite often too, with predictable results.

As long as we use privately driven vehicles for personal transportation, people are going to continue to die because of driver error.

But it is true that it is "a rather simple thing to do" to "add flashing lights at all train intersections." Why don't you go lobby your state representative or congressmen to pass a bill to raise taxes in order to pay for it?

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Horsewagled 2 years, 5 months ago

Today U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood announced that for normal drivers without sucky brakes and no steering the fatality rate for non train drivers was 1 person killed per 917,431,119 vehicle miles traveled. But the kill rate for trains with sucky brakes and no steering ...Amtrak trains would kill 2,983 people in the same 917, 431, 119 miles traveled. ...BNSF Amtrak trains would kill 679 people in the same 917, 431, 119 vehicle miles traveled. ...CSX trains would kill 1,354 people in the same 917, 431, 119 vehicle miles traveled. ...Norfolk Southern trains would kill 674 people in the same 917, 431, 119 vehicle miles traveled. ...Union Pacific trains would kill 755 people in the same 917, 431, 119 vehicle miles traveled.

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Horsewagled 2 years, 5 months ago

http://www.nhtsa.gov/PR/NHTSA-05-11 U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood """ with 1.09 fatalities per 100 million vehicle miles traveled""" Today U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood announced that for normal drivers without sucky brakes and no steering the fatality rate for non train drivers was 1 person killed per 917,431,119 vehicle miles traveled. But the kill rate for trains with sucky brakes and no steering ...Amtrak trains would kill 2,983 people in the same 917,431,119 miles traveled. ...BNSF Amtrak trains would kill 679 people in the same 917,431,119 vehicle miles traveled. ...CSX trains would kill 1,354 people in the same 917,431,119 vehicle miles traveled. ...Norfolk Southern trains would kill 674 people in the same 917,431,119 vehicle miles traveled. ...Union Pacific trains would kill 755 people in the same 917,431,119 vehicle miles traveled.

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Clickker 2 years, 5 months ago

It seems like a rather simple thing to do is to add flashing lights at all train intersections. The cost in lives is worth it. Just dumb not to have those.

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blindrabbit 2 years, 5 months ago

I'll bet the addition of flashing lights and crossbuck guards at crossings far exceeds the cost of traffic circles (which seems to be the whipping boy of everyone). Would have to run electrical for lights and perhaps air or hydraulics for the crossguards. Tough to do at every crossing as you propose since many of these crossings are in very remote, rural areas with no electrical approximate. Drivers just need to be more cautious. Regardless of right-away and tresspass, trains win these battles, not cars and/or pedrestrians. Also, it is apparent that many car/train accidents occur because drivers ignored the operating warnings and crossbucks.

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Fred Whitehead Jr. 2 years, 5 months ago

Youapparently have no idea of how much the cost of your suggestion would be, even the Kochs do not have that much.

Material cost, iInstallation, repair of vandalism,and maintenance, are huge expenses. It is not a feasable suggestion.

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Fred Whitehead Jr. 2 years, 5 months ago

My comments were intended for Clickker.

I agree with Blind Rabbit completely.

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gphawk89 2 years, 5 months ago

Agree completely. If you've ever been in rural KS you know that there are probably thousands of places where tracks cross gravel roads (and I'm sure quite a few where they cross 2-lane paved highways as well) where there simply isn't electrical service nearby. They're all marked by crossbucks, and anyone who regularly drives those roads usually has the sense to slow and look both ways before crossing.

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Horsewagled 2 years, 5 months ago

So why would you CARE what it cost the poor railroad. The RR CEOs need $10 or $20 million a year to keep them retained the railroad has no trouble coming up with.

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adamm 2 years, 5 months ago

I live on E950, 1/2 mile from where synder was hit. When you come down the hill before the crossing, you can't see the crossing at all because the road curves and has trees that hang over it. Once you can see the tracks you have a short distance where the road flattens out then it is a very steep hill straight down to the tracks. When coming down the steep part you can only see 100 feet of the track or so because of the large banks on both sides blocking your view. You have to get within 20 feet of the track before you can see around the dirt bank and the trees to look for a train. The day snyder was hit, the road was a pure sheet of ice. He would have had no idea a train was coming as he was probably aready sliding down the hill trying to stop. The road makes an immediate 90 degree turn after the tracks so you have to stop to turn anyways. 2 weeks prior to synders accident, the perry-lecompton school bus drive that drives the route that passes that crossing which my son used to ride, informed me that she slid all the way through the crossing a few days prior because the road was slick and she couldn't stop and that she hates the hill and the crossing. I'm sure people would have gotten things changed if it was a school bus full of kids that got hit due to not being able to stop. If the crossing had lights you could see that a train was coming when you are on the flat part of the hill before the crossing and you would have time to stop and wait for it to go by instead of trying to stop on a hill that is EXTREMELY steep. Everyone we have contacted in effort to gets lights wants to blame every other circumstance but the fact that the hill and the crossing combined are extremely dangerous and a crossing needs to be installed before it becomes a front page article reading Perry-Lecompton school bus is struck by BNSF train.

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Horsewagled 2 years, 5 months ago

Railroads not de-icing the crossings before they move the train bombs would be a point a REAL Operation Lifesaver person would be screaming about. The crossing inventory has 39 vehicles a day -0- school buses and 79 mph train traffic. The school bus count is put in by the state railroad people.

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Fred Whitehead Jr. 2 years, 5 months ago

These comments are very interesting to someone who has been associated with rail operations for most of my life.

First. Railroad companies are businesses who have to operate to make a profit, to move customer's goods safely and on time. They are not government supported and in the past hvae ecnountered heavy losses from poor operational proceedures. They do not have huge profits to install active grade crossing protection at every country road and driveway. And if they did, then why are there still many accidents at crossings that are flashing light protected?

The main problem is a human failing. People who are always in a nhurry, people who have their earphones ramped up to top volume, people who have to have their little electronic gadgets running at full throttle at all times and are not paying attention to their surroundings and direction. You see them everywhere, running, driving a car, walking down the sidewalk in a hazy stupor from their divided attention.

In short this is not a railroad company's problem, although all American railroads participate in Operation Lifesaver in an attempt to save lives of stupid people. But there is simply no fix for stupid. And in closing (applause here) I recall several photos published in this newspaper, one featuring two yyoung people dressed in wedding cloths cavorting on a railroad track. I recall someone on this forum (rightfully) took them to task for this incredibly stuipd idea.

A moving train is a very large vehicle. I have no suggestions for people who are so completely disassociated with their situation that they cannot see and hear one.

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Horsewagled 2 years, 5 months ago

http://www.fra.dot.gov/downloads/safety/grxing_summary.pdf page 11. I wouldn't be bragging. In this 1987 chart it shows like 80% of all collisions at passive crossings would be prevented with lights and gates. Hmmmm same drivers. A seasoned RR vet like yourself should know that. So in the last 25 years how many people have been killed/injured by railroad greed at passive crossings. That would be 25 years of collision history times 80%. Oh---the other 20% ---failed signals---short timed signals ---vehicles stalled---vehicles hung up on the humps---the second train blocking the view of the moving train---icy unattended approaches-- sun glare blocked out signals--- failed vehicle brakes---driver medical problems ---driver accidentally hits accelerator---etc. FACTS a real Operation Lifesaver would be stating instead of downplaying gate importance.

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Jeremiah Jefferson 2 years, 5 months ago

I would say its rather simple. Stop and look both ways before crossing. I don't gamble with trains or rail road crossings. You will probably win most the time, but the one time you lose, you will lose big time. I see people running the gates on HWY 68 between Ottawa and Pomona all the time.

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Horsewagled 2 years, 5 months ago

Before you get yourself and other people killed ----the Feds and state tucked in the railroads pockets don't require the LOOK requirements to go with the mickey mouse signs. So you look a 100 feet because that is as far as you can see and the 79 mph is coming at 116 feet a second. Another point a REAL Operation Lifesaver would be screaming about. Oh, the listen ----trains don't blow horns at 1,000s of private crossings so LISTEN for what ---squirrels eating nuts

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Jeremiah Jefferson 2 years, 5 months ago

Of course you do realize that if a train traveling at 79 mph at 116 feet per second it would de-rail if it had to make that sharp of turn coming around a bend where you could only see 100 feet? I cant say as I have ever came across a track where I couldnt see atleast a thousand feet and in most instances much farther in either direction, Who knows, maybe its because I have good eyesight that I can see them coming lol.

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Horsewagled 2 years, 5 months ago

Ok --Stopped 50 feet from near rail --- in your 80 foot long truck seeing 1,000 feet --- go ---catfishturkeyhunter--- go You got 8.6 seconds.

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Jeremiah Jefferson 2 years, 5 months ago

One other thing, if I can hear a train at 3 am in the deepest of deep sleeps while dreaming about naked ladies from 3-4 miles away, I would like to think a normal person can tell if a train is coming while stopped at a crossing

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Ron Holzwarth 2 years, 5 months ago

What? Trains come while stopped at a crossing while your're dreaming about naked ladies?

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adamm 2 years, 5 months ago

In addition to the school bus not being able to stop, we also spoke to a neighbor that said he slid through the crossing last winter in his tractor because his tractor wouldn't stop. I myself have slide through the crossing a few years ago because I had a trailer and a skidloader behind my truck and the gravel was loose and I just slide. The tracks were what finally caught me. If a train would have been coming it would have been too late for me. The hill is steep enough that when I go south up the hill I have to use four wheel drive to climb it if I have a trailer on behind my truck becuase if not my truck just spins the tires trying to climb it due to the steepness of it. A flashing light at the top of the hill telling you a train is coming would even be sufficient enough to warn you not to start down the hill because a train is coming. I agree that people try and out run trains and go around barracades but when it comes to a very steep hill that is hard to slow down on dry conditions let alone icy conditions, and the extremely low visibility of what is coming down the tracks, I believe something needs to be done. Two friends of ours work for railroad companies and both have said that the crossing is extremely dangerous and they have helped us out in the process of getting lights put up. The crossing 1/2 mile down from this one has lights and cross arms and it is on a flat stretch of road with good visibility so I would hope the railroad would understand why a dangerous crossing 1/2 mile down deserves them.

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gccs14r 2 years, 5 months ago

The real problem is at-grade crossings. If vehicle traffic were diverted vertically to pass either over or under the tracks, there would be no collisions.

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Ron Holzwarth 2 years, 5 months ago

You are assuming that all the drivers are going to be keeping their vehicles on the road.

Historically, that is not a valid assumption.

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blindrabbit 2 years, 5 months ago

Sounds like that particular crossing has some inherent problems that would not be resolved by crossing lights or barriers. Also, there used to be a road crossing of the Santa Fe tracks just east of Lakeview, the road was closed years ago when the Cameron Bluffs (Lawrence KPL) power plant expanded. Anyway, the road crossing was straight but where the tracks crossed, they were on a curve. Early one morning (dark) I almost "bought my lunch" there, no train whistle, and train light shined out into a corn field. Scared the crap out me, as a result I look carefully at any crossing! Driver beware, you will not win a battle with a locomotive!

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Ron Holzwarth 2 years, 5 months ago

"Driver beware, you will not win a battle with a locomotive!"

You are wrong. You will definitely beat the engineer of the locomotive to the life beyond.

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Horsewagled 2 years, 5 months ago

Unless of course your in a low boy with the truck shored trailer on the hump railroads are too cheap to level out. Trains don't like one on one.

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blindrabbit 2 years, 5 months ago

Yeoman2 or anybody with the know! How many trains travel BNSF through Lawrence each day???, I know Amtrak one each way, some locals, what about over the road trains?? Also, how many trains per day on UP tracks in North Lawrence??

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Horsewagled 2 years, 5 months ago

For what the railroads tell the Feds- http://www.fra.dot.gov/ railroad safety drop down ---hit safety data ---click crossing ---query by location

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Horsewagled 2 years, 5 months ago

For what the railroads tell the Feds- http://www.fra.dot.gov/ railroad safety drop down ---hit safety data ---click crossing ---query by location

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Fred Whitehead Jr. 2 years, 5 months ago

Rabbit, I do not have exact figures, but the UP line in North Lawrence is by far the busiest. I would estimate 40-50 or more a day. The speed limit in town is supposed to be 40 mph but out in the country it is 79 mph. They can sneak up on you fast, today's mainline tracks are all continuous welded rail and trains can move very quietly if they are "drifting" on low power. Some people in North Lawrence have objected to the train horns wanting a "quite zone" , but do not seem to realize the danger of this very bad idea. That track is a man line from Kansas City to Gibbon Nebraska where it joins the UP main line from Omaha to the west coast. Many trains rom the eastern roads (NS, CSX) run through KC and are routed on the UP to the west coase and a lot of coal train traffic heads east over the UP.

BNSF (the old Atcheson, Topeka and Santa Fe) is a secondary line from BNFF's Holliday junction in west KC that runs to Topeka and then south to Emporia where it rejoins the BNSF Transcon (the line through Ottawa and Pomona). BNSF's Transcon from LA to Chicago is one of the busiest main line tracks in the U.S. and some local traffic is routed through Lawrence as well as the 2 Amtrak trains. I hope this information is useful to you and others

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Horsewagled 2 years, 5 months ago

For what the railroads tell the feds.

http://www.fra.dot.gov/ railroad safety drop down ---hit safety data ---click crossing ---query by location

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Jeremiah Jefferson 2 years, 5 months ago

Friend of mine who works for the Fire Department said there is a train on the tracks crossing hwy 68 between Ottawa and Pomona every 15 minutes

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riverdrifter 2 years, 5 months ago

That's about right on many days but on others, not so much by a longshot. I was down that way today and it was a busy place. There was an eastbound intermodal at Ottawa tied up by the Wellsville interlocker signal. I believe there were at least two westbounders over near Gardner needing crossover to the south track there at the Ottawa depot. Traffic jam. This is the way it works on TCS territory: you have to be thinking at Olathe about what you're going to be doing at Ottawa and you're a mile long. Anyway, anybody who believes who thinks that crossing signals should should installed at every single crossing that exists needs a reality check. Horsewagled has an axe to grind, obviously.

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blindrabbit 2 years, 5 months ago

Yeoman: Thank for the update! You mentioned the complaints from residents of North Lawrence and the train whistles. Not much need for the tracks to run through N.L. anymore, except FMC/Westvaco or whatever it is now. Didn't the U.P. consider cutting off that part of the track and bulid a shunt from the Mud Creek area to Midland Junction. I'm sure it would be an expensive proposition, but would eliminate some of the problem going through N.L. The section as it now exists has been in many fatalities including the 4 that died at Laptad crossing about 20 years ago. What became of the idea!

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blindrabbit 2 years, 5 months ago

Yeoman: Just thought of a problem with my 5:57 post; would require the train tracks to cross US 24/40 once and US 24/59 once and maybe something to do with the Lawrence Airport. Never mind!!!

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Flap Doodle 2 years, 5 months ago

This award-winning website seems to have attracted another single-issue crusader.

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Ron Holzwarth 2 years, 5 months ago

Yes. He/she opened an account today, and has now posted 19 comments.

And guess what. Every single one of them is on this thread.

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riverdrifter 2 years, 5 months ago

Yep. Axe grinder and probably somewhere there's a loco engineer that was involved at a rail crossing accident that in no way was his (OK,her) fault.

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Ron Holzwarth 2 years, 5 months ago

Or, someone that has lost friends or family members. Let's not be too quick to judge the actions of others when we don't know the pain that they have experienced.

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riverdrifter 2 years, 5 months ago

The train crew is always the first ones on the scene. It's never pretty and they take it home too.

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Horsewagled 2 years, 5 months ago

http://www.bnsf.com/media/speeches/pdf/railroader_of_the_year.pdf Matt Rose CEO BNSF statement @ yearly railroad rapers tea party. """...The best example that I can give you is the positive train control mandate--a $10 billion expenditure by 2015. The cost benefit ratio is 22:1....""" Somebody help me with the math here? I always thought knowingly allowing some one to be killed/injured would be negligent homicide so I never did any cost benefit ratios. Would the divisor into the the $10 billion mentioned by the BNSF railroad CEO be 22 making/saving BNSF railroad over $9.5 billion by not saving lives/injuries with proper safety equipment? Or would the divisor into the the $10 billion mentioned by the BNSF railroad CEO be 23 making/saving BNSF railroad over $9.5 billion by not saving lives/injuries with proper safety equipment? I wouldn't want the poor railroad to cost themselves $20 million or so.

$454,545,454.54 $434,782,608.69 Then one might think how does a railroad come up with the numbers for a ""' ...cost benefit ratio is 22:1....""" for safety equipment? Do they have like a list up on a wall ---This train wreck killing 3 and costing X # of $$$s for damages could have been prevented with PTC and take add this list list up for a period of time coming up with the $454,545,454.54 ---$434,782,608.69 range?

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angels 2 years, 5 months ago

While the story had to go back 20 years to show a decrease in train fatalities, according to Operation Lifesaver's own publication, "Sunflower State Signal, Vol. 27, No. 1 (2nd Qtr. 2011) the FRA stats show vehicle train collisions for (2010) in the U.S. were up 4.2 percent , crossing deaths up 5.3 percent, and crossing injuries up 9.8 percent from 2009. Through KDOT's own admission, more than half of the crossings in KS have "minimal" signage, no protection devices. The issue of funding gate installations (with TAXPAYER state/fed monies) would be a non-issue if railroad companies paid their fair share, especially since they know gates have been proven to be 3 x more effective than crossbucks, 8 x more effective than stop signs in preventing grade-crossing accidents. If railroads/OLI are truly interested in saving lives, why don't they promote gates? Could it be because they don't want the added costs for maintenance, or liability if gates/lights aren't working. It's much easier to blame the driver at a passive crossing, where the "failure to yield" mantra can be cited.

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Elizabeth Stancliffe 2 years, 5 months ago

Well, if the fatality rate in Kansas is higher than other states, obviously Kansas is doing something wrong. What are the other states doing that we are not? The answer to the problem is there.

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Horsewagled 2 years, 5 months ago

Ask Mitch Sauders. A warning device to him is a strip of shiney tape on the mickey mouse cross buck sign post. A few years ago I seen where the state was illegally paying BNSF $1,000s per crossing to remove sight obstructions on their private property at crossings. If the sight lines needed were off railroad property (which they almost always are at cross buck crossings). The contractors were suppose to contact the property owners to get permission to clear the sight obstructions. A contractor on PIECE WORK getting paid per crossing isn't about to actually knock on any doors. ...Mitch Sothers, engineer with the Kansas Department of Transportation. Sothers helps install other warning devices, paid for with federal money. But the funding is limited, and Sothers said KDOT is only able to add warning devices to about 50 train crossings per year...

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angels 2 years, 5 months ago

January 20, 2004 U.S. Court of Appeals - 3rd Circuit Stroyzyk v. Norfolk Southern 02-3957

Federal law DOES NOT preempt railroad companies from liability for limited sight lines and failure to maintain safe grade crossings. "A railroad must exercise ordinary care at a crossing by adopting a reasonably safe and effective method, commensurate with the dangers of a particular crossing, of warning travelers of the approach of a train."

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Horsewagled 2 years, 5 months ago

Mitch are you signing off on these projects with overcharges to choke a horse a 12 year old could see? $13,000 just to get the equipment there ---Labor charged as equipment ---Labor charged 3 different places. Power poles that the power company installs ---Think amount it Mitch ---What RR crossing hasn't been designed that the railroad doesn't just pull the drawings out of a file cabinet and change the street/RR names. Then you let the railroads steal the equipment we paid for on closed/reworked projects Mitch. why is that MITCH??? http://www.cityoflewisville.com/main/citycouncil/agendas2010/ca09202010Backup.pdf 6’ x 8’ STEEL BUNGALOW, with GCP UNIT and SEARII Reporting Unit, with Modules & Program required to control warning devices as shown, Chargers & Battery necs., etc $ 54,217.00 FLASHER & GATE SIGNALS, with 12” LED Lights, All Aluminum Gate Arms, LED Gate Lights, Signs, Bells, with any side lights as per State Specifications. $21,316.00 SIGNAL GROUND MATERIAL, Foundations, Underground Wire & Cable, Guard Rails, Multi Shunt Boxes at approaches, Track Connectors, Bond Wires, wiring materials, etc. $ 21,677.00 Freight Charges $ 4,361.00 10% Material Contingency Fee $ 9,721.00 PROJECT MATERIAL, Cover Rock or Fill Material necessary, 220 Volt AC Service Pole, Directional Boring with 4” PVC Pipe as determined by Railroad, etc. $ 34,000.00 MATERIAL SUB TOTAL = $ 145,292.00

KCS LABOR with Additives, all Signal Dept. Personnel required for Administration, and for Field Installation, testing and cut-over as directed by the Signal Engineer. 12d $ 40,777.00 EQUIPMENT CHARGES, for Signal Dept Pickup Trucks, Backhoes, Boom Trucks, etc. $ 12,285.00

KCS PERSONAL EXPENSES, for all Signal Dept Personnel $ 6,230.00 CONTRACT ENGINEERING, for Layout Design, Quote Plans, Material Lists, Layout Plans & Estimate, Shop Wiring & Field Construction Plans as directed by the RR (JaKay) $ 17,500.00 CONTRACT ACCOUNTING, Project Cost Tracking System through the life of the project, Completion Reports and assist Accounting with Final Billing preperation. (BHS) $ 5,000.00 UTILITY COORDINATION, arrangements for new electrical service, relocation of utilities, arrange for rock & fill material, project coordination as directed by the RR (JaKay) $ 3,500.00 FIELD INSTALLATION CONTRACTOR, to provide equipment & personnel as required by the KCSR Field Installation Bid Request package for the signal installation. NO CHARGE LABOR SUB TOTAL = $ 85 ,292.00 TOTAL $ 230,584.00

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Horsewagled 2 years, 5 months ago

http://www.ksdot.org/burProgProjMgmt/... OK Mitch I figured out your codes. FLTSG ---Flashing Light Signals. I search the entire 4 year plan and the little search fairy shows 37 projects. My 6th grade math comes up with 9.25 crossings a year not 50 as you stated. Now how many of these 37 projects already had crossing lights a level 7 protection (Gates being level 8)? Then how many of the level 7 lights we already had paid for were moved to crossings like = Crossing ID005878X= on E 950 road? Or Mitch did you let the railroad steal our signals???

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