Railroad ordered to upgrade railroad grade crossing

The state has ordered automated signals at a railroad crossing south of Janesville.

The Office of the Commissioner of Railroads issued the order Friday, Feb. 5, more than two years after a state inspector investigated the crossing and recommended the upgrade, according to the order.

The order states:

The Wisconsin & Southern Railroad line crosses La Prairie Town Hall Road, which has an average daily traffic count of 150 vehicles and an unposted speed limit of 55 mph.

Trains pass the crossing four times a day at speeds reaching 40 mph.

Two accidents have occurred at the crossing since 1973, both of those in 2019. One of the accidents resulted in injury.

At 55 mph, a driver needs 516 feet to stop safely at the crossing. The railroad crossbucks at the crossing could be visible from more than 516 feet, but at the time of inspection, brush and trees in the highway right-of-way covered the warning devices.

Accidents at the crossing are likely to be serious, in part because train speeds of 40 mph are involved in a disproportionate number of fatalities.

The commissioner ordered that Wisconsin & Southern install 12-inch LED automatic warning devices with gates, an advance-warning system and an electronic bell, paid for with state and federal funding.

Installation must be done by Dec. 31, 2023.

The commissioner also ordered the town of La Prairie to clear brush and trim trees within the 66-foot highway right-of-way for 330 feet down the highway in each direction by April 30, 2021. The town also was ordered to add pavement markings and maintain stop signs and advance-warning signs until automatic warning devices are installed.

The commissioner will consider objections to the Feb. 5 ruling filed within 20 days and might hold a public hearing.

This is an important upgrade at a railroad grade crossing where traffic is passing at 55 mph with the only warning being flashing lights. The addition of LED gates and a warning bell may prevent future accidents that have occurred here.

Source – https://www.gazettextra.com/news/government/railroad-ordered-to-upgrade-crossing-near-janesville/article_d1151766-4c03-57db-ae8c-650dc942400f.html

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