(04/11/19) Fifty-two counties in Arkansas will see upgraded railroad crossings this summer and Union County is one of them.
The Arkansas Department of Transportation announced a $685,600 grant they recieved from the Consolidated Rail Infrastructure and Safety Improvements program.
“ARDOT will utilize these funds to help repair and upgrade Arkansas’ rail infrastructure,” stated ARDOT Director Scott Bennett. “In turn, this will increase safety at hundreds of crossings.”
According to the Federal Railroad Administration, many accidents stem from drivers who stop on the railraod crossings or just don’t stop at all. Although there are yield and stop signs posted, ARDOT would like to do more.
“Fifty-two counties will benefit from installation of 133 Advanced Warning Signs, 473 Railroad Pavement Marking Symbols and 494 Stop Lines.”
In Union County, Highway 335, Highway 7, Highway 7S and Highway 15 will see improvements. Currently, none of the highways have the stop bar which officials say is a better way to keep drivers from driving on the tracks when they’re not supposed to.
“When you’re looking at a railroad track, you have no idea of what the speed is of a train,” Lt. Christopher Lutman said. “It’s an optical illusion.”
Lt. Lutman hopes the upcoming improvements will decrease highway-rail injuries and collisions. Until then and even after, he advises drivers to be cautious.
“We’re such a technological society and we’re distracted by a lot of things,” Lutman said. “Do not take it for granted that this train has stopped or is going really slow.”
Neighboring counties will also see upgrades. Columbia County will get 12 upgraded crossings. Ashley County will get seven and Ouachita County will get three.
The project is expected to begin this summer and completed around the state by the end of the year.