Old 12-23-2005, 09:56 PM   #1
IC 6071
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Default Why no gates?

Hi all! Yesterday, I was railfanning in Janesville WI, and there was a crossing (see the link below) that a train switching crossed over probably 20 times and they didnt have gates on it. They flaged it sometimes, but when they didnt, people blew through, even when the warning lights were on, and getting missed by feet it seemed. I know that they would hold up traffic for longer, and I also know the trains don't go fast through there, but judging by what I saw yesterday, I think something should be done. Ideas or opinions? Thanks.
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Old 12-23-2005, 10:07 PM   #2
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Originally Posted by unionpacificfreak
.... but judging by what I saw yesterday, I think something should be done. Ideas or opinions? Thanks.
Yeah, something should be done, the drivers should look first. Someone just got floorwaxed on the BNSF here yesterday at a crossing without a gate or flashers. Of course, the usual witnesses said the train was not blowing its horn. They also mentioned how hard it is to see trains. Well, I can tell you I have been to that crossing many times, and if you stop first and look, the 1/2 mile straight stretch to the west from where this train was coming is not hard to see. Anyway, the state trooper mentioned on the news something to the affect of, hey, if there is only a crossbuck, you have to stop and look. I couldn't agree more. It's up to the state to determine where gates need to go. It is supposed to be up to people to look for themselves to see if a train is coming, although we all know a lot of them don't. Personal responsibility........ what's that?
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Old 12-23-2005, 10:21 PM   #3
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The railroads do not have the authority to place gates, or even lights for that matter. The State and federal agencies use a rather complicated formula that looks at train traffic, auto traffic, how many tracks, how many traffic lanes, layout of the crossing and so on and so forth. If a certain corssing doesnt meet the criteria, it wont get the gates or even lights.

About 99% of the time the state or federal goverment pays for the instalation or upgrading of crossing protection, and then they split maintanance and inspection cost with the railroad.
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Old 12-23-2005, 10:46 PM   #4
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These are the same people I see everyday that: stop, look both ways, see the flashing lights (hopefully hear the siren), and zip across the intersection. I am sure these would be many of the same that would just step off the curb at a Pedestrian Crossing sign without looking.

Maybe, in a cost savings measure, the railroads let their crossings go to pot. This way, drivers will slow down to not injury their cars. Flashing lights/arms with lights/dinging bells/blaring horns still don't prevent drivers from driving around lowered arms.

The responsiblity should fall on the drivers. Rarely would a locomotive be in a crossing illegally. Would you run across a firing range and get upset that you were shot?
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Old 12-24-2005, 12:19 AM   #5
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Around where I live, we have crossings that have no gates, no lights, no sound, no warning at all that a train is approaching. A yield sign and a crossbuck is all that you can see. Surely, the motorists driving across these crossings should know what those two signs mean, but some just race right across without even looking both ways. I unfortunately see it every time I'm out at those spots.
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Old 12-24-2005, 12:49 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NicTrain35
A yield sign and a crossbuck is all that you can see.
But how many drivers know what "Yield" means? Very few it seems like.

Quote:
Surely, the motorists driving across these crossings should know what those two signs mean,
Should being the operative word there. Motorists should stop when the lights are flashing, but do they?
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Old 12-24-2005, 02:17 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cmherndon
Very few it seems like.
I agree. I see many ignore the sign everyday.
Quote:
Originally Posted by cmherndon
but do they?
Unfortunately, not all of them stop. Some don't even stop at a protected crossing (equipped with gates, lights and sound). There should be a fine of about $500 (more, if needed) if you're caught driving around a lowered gate or driving past flashing lights. I'm not sure what the current fine is for breaking those rules.
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Old 12-24-2005, 02:51 AM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cmherndon
But how many drivers know what "Yield" means? Very few it seems like.
Most people think it is French for "I can go even though the other car legally has the right of way and cause an accident".

Quote:
Originally Posted by busyEMT
Maybe, in a cost savings measure, the railroads let their crossings go to pot. This way, drivers will slow down to not injury their cars. Flashing lights/arms with lights/dinging bells/blaring horns still don't prevent drivers from driving around lowered arms
I say a spike strip that will shred your tires. Wanna zip across in front of the train even though the lights are flashing? Go ahead, your tires. (I know this would never be practical, but I would find it very humorous.)
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Old 12-24-2005, 05:40 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NicTrain35
I agree. I see many ignore the sign everyday.

Unfortunately, not all of them stop. Some don't even stop at a protected crossing (equipped with gates, lights and sound). There should be a fine of about $500 (more, if needed) if you're caught driving around a lowered gate or driving past flashing lights. I'm not sure what the current fine is for breaking those rules.
Two years ago, my partner & I stopped for coffee prior to a court appearance for a ticket we wrote to a guy who passed a line of stopped traffic over the double yellow line, forced another car off the road, and drove around lowered crossing gates with a switcher moving through the crossing (luckily it had just started moving)-- The guy we ticketed was also in the coffee shop--After the judge found him guilty, it was the other officer's and my fault he was in trouble-- Outside the courtroom, he told us what a$$holes we were, and we should go get another cup of coffee-- I said: "You know what, that's a good idea. It only cost me 3 bucks in the coffee shop, but it just cost you fifteen hundred in the courtroom." Needless to say, we laughed all the way to the coffee house, and even celebrated with a donut-- Cheers, da Gator
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Old 12-24-2005, 11:32 AM   #10
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When did gates and lights become commonplace on railroads anyway? Was cars getting hit by trains as much or more of a problem then as it seems to be now? Or have drivers just gotten more foolish and stupid?

For some reason i think todays drivers have more respect for a normal stop sign or traffic light than they do for a crossbuck, lights, or gates. In my town a very minor railroad crosses main street. They used to have regular flashing lights like at a normal train crossing, but they were replaced with traffic lights. Maybe at these rural crossings they could put a normal stop sign along with the crossbuck and lights, but who knows if it would do any good.

I would also be interested to know how many tickets are given out by law enforcement for crossing the tracks when a train is coming. It doesnt seem to be that well enforced, although its clear that Gator and his partner are doing a fine job. Obviously they have a lot of other stuff for law enforcement to attend to as well. I was wondering, if i was to be out railfanning and saw a car go around the lowered gates and snapped a couple quick pictures and called it in would anything actually happen to the guy? If he was caught would the pictures stand up in court?
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Old 12-24-2005, 04:27 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by golden_spike
I was wondering, if i was to be out railfanning and saw a car go around the lowered gates and snapped a couple quick pictures and called it in would anything actually happen to the guy?
Only if you had his license plate number (And even then nothing might actually happen). I've actually been tempted many times to take a picture of someone walking (Or worse, ATVing) on tracks, but I never got around to doing it.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ru1056
I say a spike strip that will shred your tires.
That's a good idea!

Speaking of crossings, there's a crossing around here that has gates only, no flashers (Except the ones on the gate).
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Old 12-24-2005, 04:39 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NicTrain35
Around where I live, we have crossings that have no gates, no lights, no sound, no warning at all that a train is approaching.
Holy cow!!! No warning at all! That's crazy!

And then you wrote --

Quote:
Originally Posted by NicTrain35
A yield sign and a crossbuck is all that you can see.
Oh! So thre IS a warning afterall! In fact, there's two signs. You had me confused with the no warning at all statement, which at first glace seems to indicate that there is, in fact, no warning at all, when theat's not really the case at all.

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