A driver in a red pickup truck was killed when a train slammed into his vehicle at a private crossing in Clinton County, Illinois.
The crossing did not have warning gates.
The Federal Rail Administration investigates accidents and accumulates data for train crashes across the country.
The dealiest accident in our area happened in November 2006. A train rammed into a Chevy Trailblazer driven by 43-year old Tina Porter. Porter's 13-year old daughter Allaysa and her 13-year old friend Donna Calvert also died in the crash. Twelve-year old Julie Seymour was critically injured, but recovered and returned to school.
The Marissa crossing, which ran through the center of town on a public street, did not have crossing gates. The victim's loved ones and city officials pressured the state to install gates earlier than scheduled.
According to the Illinois Commerce Commission, the state has approximately 7,200 miles of railroad track, the second largest system in the country.
There are 13,100 non-bridge rail crossings in Illinois, the second largest number in the nation. Only 2,958 have flashing lights and gates, another 2,063 have flashing lights only. There are 4,700 grade crossings on private property, including the one in Clinton County, but since they aren't on public property the state doesn't maintain them.
Why wouldn't you have gates on all crossings? Cost, of course. It runs $200-300,000 to put up gates with flashing lights. Multiply that by thousands of crossings and you can see why so many communities don't have a warning system that could save lives.
The Illinois Commerce Commission will spend $13.2 million on 67 grade crossing improvement projects in fiscal year 2009.
In all, the state plans significant improvements to crossings in Clinton, St. Clair, Madison and Macoupin counties during the next few years.
If you believe there's a crossing in your area that needs a gate you can file a complaint with the ICC.