Rail crossing

As You See It

To the Editor,

This letter has been written to comment on the July 30, page 3 article, entitled, “Council Reassured on Crossings”.

In this article we learned a handful of statistics regarding the reopened rail line from Plymouth to Sheboygan Falls and beyond.

My concern is simple: The cross bucks and yield signs are wholly inadequate in Plymouth, and especially so at the Highland Avenue and Pleasant View Road crossings.

Any warning devices placed at a railroad crossing are not there for the purpose of: freight car counts, train speed monitoring, cargo dollar value estimations, confirming the number of times a train passes the crossing or analyzing the speed a man walks.

The warning devices are there for one purpose: to keep pedestrians and road vehicles from colliding with rail vehicles. And for the nine school months of the year the neighborhoods around the Highland and Pleasant View crossings experience the highest concentrations of inexperienced drivers in the Plymouth metro area.

Many houses and apartments have been built in the vicinity of the Highland and Pleasant View crossings since the rail line was last in service. And just as the old ballast, ties, spikes and rails were insufficient for the modern railcar, railcar load weights and train speed, the old rail crossing protection are no longer suffi- cient today at the Highland and Pleasant View crossings.

Every year across the coun- try, hundreds of people die in railroad crossing vehicular accidents through inattentive, inexperienced, incompetent or intoxicated driving. Plymouth does not want to be added to those statistics. Again.

A little over thirty years ago, two young local residents were killed at a railroad crossing roughly two miles from Horizon school, in an area much less densely populated on a street much less travelled today than both Highland and Pleasant View Roads. Today, there are not just standard flashing lights at the Sumac Road crossing, but additional lights extended higher to give drivers an earlier warning as they drive eastbound and down the steep approach to the railroad tracks.

Towards the end of the aforementioned article, the following comment appears: “you can always upgrade the crossing. The way railroads work is if a crossing becomes dangerous they upgrade.” Simply put - to become dangerous someone, or more, has to die.

Flashing lights and gates are not the perfect solution, but gates will certainly cut down on the number of drivers considering the “I Can Beat This Train” option; cross bucks and yield signs will not.

If the DNR can decide that Mill Pond Dam can be reclassified to low hazard, from high hazard, with no improvements having been done in between, as stated on page 2 of the same issue of the Review, the Commissioner of Railroads can be petitioned by our local officials and state representatives to change their decision and have flashing lights and gates installed at these two highlytravelled rail crossings, before someone else gets killed.

Finally, by adding flashing lights and gates to the Highland and Pleasant View crossings it might, repeat, might, then be possible to have a no-whistle quiet zone created between the Hwy 57 and South Street crossings for the hours of 11 p.m. to 6 a.m.

Safe, efficient, daytime rail traffic is great. Safe, efficient, quiet, overnight rail traffic is outstanding.

J. Scott Henkel

Town of Lyndon

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