Changes coming to railroad crossing where child died

Local News

DANVILLE, Ill. (WCIA) — A railroad crossing where a teenager was hit and killed is going to get safety improvements.

In 2017, 13-year-old Deon Jackson was hit by a train when he was riding his bike across the tracks. It happened at the crossing on North Griffin Street.

On Tuesday night, city council approved a plan to install crossing arms and other warning signs to make people more aware of their surroundings. This project has been a long time coming. It took more than a year to approve the plan and designs through the railroad company.

The painful memory of Jackson’s death remains in people’s minds years after it happened. Danville Boys and Girls Club Director Rob Gifford says, “It was very upsetting to know it was a child and it was a child on a bike trying to make it across before the train came.”

There were no crossing arms to stop Jackson. His death made city officials realize that needed to change. Mayor Rickey Williams says, “We just don’t want to lose anyone that way ever again.”

Crossing arms will be installed over the railroad tracks and over the pedestrian crossing on the sidewalk. Mayor Williams says, “It would be nearly impossible, unless someone literally were to walk under or through the gates, to get through.”

Right beside that railroad crossing is Garfield Park and the Boys and Girls Club. Hundreds of people are in that area every day. Gifford has made some frightening observations. He says, “The trains through here are non-stop from early in the morning to late in the evening. You see kids and people driving that try to beat the train coming by crossing quickly.”

He hopes this could be the difference that saves someone’s life. Gifford says, “Maybe people will take notice and have to stop and have to take notice of it and there won’t be anymore accidents.”

The city says traffic might be reduced to one lane but the crossing will not be closed during construction. The project should be done by the end of this year.

The project will cost $98,795. The money is coming from the federal Community Development Block Grant through Housing and Urban Development.

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