All of the recent news of cars running past the crossing gates on railroad tracks, along with the near accidents and real accidents that may have cost lives, highlights how we have failed to adapt to the change of transportation since the 19th century.
At that time, railroads were king and just their size justified the idea that we should defer to them rather than give personal transportation the right of way. But that was then, this is now. While railroads have schedules to keep, no lives are at stake in the efforts to keep them. No one will be fired, fined or punished if a shipment of anything is late. But people’s jobs, businesses and lives are at stake when held up by long, slow or stopped railroad trains. This should be stopped now.
After many years, we are now seeing some highway planning to acknowledge the problem. After decades of problems in Alorton, a railroad or the state finally created an overpass over the tracks. But about a mile further west, another railroad has not.
If an ambulance cannot make it because of the delay; people will die. Illinois should lead the way for the country to require overpasses for most, if not all, train crossings over roads and highways.
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Don’t say it can’t be done. Yes, it can. We have only three or four railroads in the country now and most carry few, if any, passengers. Do it.
Joseph M. Reichert