Safety improvements coming to southern Illinois railroad crossin - WSIL-TV 3 Southern Illinois

Safety improvements coming to southern Illinois railroad crossings

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WSIL-TV — Several railroad crossings in the area will soon be getting some much-needed safety improvements.

Not all railroad crossings have flashing lights with gates and sirens, so it's up to people trying to cross the railroads to pay attention.

“People are caught up sometimes, and don’t think to slow down, stop, look, listen,” said Jefferson County Engineer Brandon Simmons.

Simmons says only 63 of the county’s 150 street and railroad crossings have lights and gates, while many are equipped with just a railroad crossing sign.

It’s a similar scene across much of southern Illinois, where rural roads aren’t always equipped with the same safety measures as highways.

“There’s lot of crossings that don’t have lights or gates, so that can be very dangerous to the traveling public,” Simmons said.

According to a report from the Illinois Commerce Commission (ICC), the agency responsible for railroad safety, southern Illinois counties will receive millions of dollars in funding in order to add the improvements to dozens of crossings over the next five years, something Simmons says will improve public safety.

“Well it gives you no other choice than to stop,” he said. “It will let you know they’re coming.”

Data from the ICC shows there were 86 railroad collisions in the state last year leading to 26 fatalities.  

Simmons thinks getting lights and gates built at every crossing possible will help drive those numbers down.

“Any kind of notification, any kinds of lights we can add is definitely beneficial,” he said.

Work on some of the southern Illinois crossings will begin in the next few weeks.

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