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Where rails cross trails: the safety solution

CSX grade crossing of a trail in Baldwin, Florida uses typical highway railroad crossing warning and safety technology. See the online slide show.

By Craig Della Penna

Map: grade crossing is about 200 yards east of the Baldwin Trailhead Visitor Center
 

Railroads are extremely reluctant to allow any new crossing of an existing railroad, and actively seek to reduce the number of crossings, whether road or trail.

According to the Federal Highway Administration incidents at U. S. public highway-rail crossings in 2003 resulted in 295 deaths and 893 injuries. Of 150,000 public grade crossings only 35,500 have gates as seen on this trail in Florida.

The Jacksonville-Baldwin Rail Trail is a good example of using standard technology to solve a safety issue.

photo: Highway style crossing gates (with warning lights and bells) coming down as train approaches

Highway style crossing gates (with warning lights and bells) coming down as train approaches

 

photo: train crossing trail at about 25 miles per hour
photo: Grade Crossing electronic hardware cabinet photo: operation lifesaver educational facility located on-site in a caboose

The Federal Highway Administration's Office of Safety has more safety information and statistics on highway-rail grade crossings: http://safety.fhwa.dot.gov/xings/

See RTC's newly released report on Rails-with-Trails: A Preliminary Assessment of Safety and Grade Crossings, November 2005 (pdf 1.4mb)

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