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Dangers of Unmarked Railroad Crossings
UNDATED -- The railroad crossing that was the scene of a deadly train accident Tuesday night did not have any gates or lights. It happened along a private driveway on North Main Street in Camden.
Police say Brandy Brandenburg, 31, was trying to get to her home on the other side of two sets of train tracks. As one train was slowly backing away from the crossing, Brandenburg pulled into the path of a second oncoming train and was hit. Police say the first train may have blocked her view of the second. Brandenburg was ejected and killed. Her 8-year-old son was not seriously injured.
While that crossing is private, you may be surprised at how many public train crossings in the Miami Valley don't have gates or lights. We did some research and found dozens of crossings without those safety measures. They're mostly in the Northern Miami Valley, but just about every county in our region has railroad crossings with only a sign warning drivers.
David Owens and his family live right next to one of Montgomery County's five railroad crossings that don't have any lights or gates.
"The train is always going through there constantly. They don't ever stop," he said.
The railroad crosses Stony Hollow Road in Dayton, and 29 trains come through there every day. We were there last year when a train smashed into a dump truck crossing the tracks. The only warning at the crossing is a couple small signs and the train's horn sounding seconds before it reaches the crossing.
"Big 'ole honk, that's about it," Owens said
54 percent of public railroad crossings in Ohio have the lights and gates warning of an approaching train. However, that means nearly half of all crossings don't have those safety upgrades. One reason is the cost: $200,000 for each crossing.
North Irwin in Dayton is another crossing with only a few warning signs posted. But there isn't too much traffic there or around the crossing on Old Webster in Vandalia.
According to the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio, which is in charge of installing safety measures, crossings with low traffic volume are low on the upgrade priority list.
The state also considers other factors like train speed, the number of trains that use the crossing every day and crash history when determining whether to install safety upgrades.
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