ILLINOIS (WCIA) — Upgrades are coming to railroad crossings across the state, and now we have more details on which ones. Last year, Illinois had the lowest number of vehicle-train crashes in the last eight years. The Illinois Commerce COmmission says that’s partly because of rail safety stories you’ve seen on the air. But there are still crashes.
“Really what we’re talking about is a lot of cars, lot of trains, lot of crossings, the greater the likelihood that someone is going to be involved in an incident trying to beat a train,” said Chip Pew, Illinois Commerce Safety Specialist. Pew said part of the gas tax goes into the Grade Crossing Protection Fund.
“With that money the commerce commission looks into upgrading crossings throughout the state,” he said.
Last March, the commission put together a list of dozens of crossing improvement projects and how much they would each cost. They looked at the incident history, how many trains and cars use each crossing a day, and what types of cars.
“We have crossings where there aren’t a lot of trains and cars, but maybe it’s in an area of the state where farmers are carrying in hydrous-phenomous, so that becomes important.”
Four crossings in Royal in northeast Champaign County fit that description.
“The track out here is really kind of dangerous,” said Kimberly Gossett, Royal. She works just down the road from one of the crossings. She said it’s known for how hazardous it is, especially in bad weather.
“People know around here that you really have to be cautious around here so most people tend to approach very slowly.”
The state’s list also includes $45 million for a project at the Curtis Road crossing and $90 million for the Brush College Road crossing in Savoy. Pew said it will be money well spent because they’ve already seen what gates and lights can do.
“Just to give you an idea of how far we’ve come, in 1976 we had 800 crashes and 100 deaths. 2018 we’re at 109 crashes and 19 people killed”
All of the crossings on the list are pending projects. The crossings we showed you in Royal are expected to be in place by 2023, but they could be earlier. For a list of all of the proposed projects, click here.