Decision on railroad crossings needs quick action

By Chuck Kajer

Several months ago, people in the Jordan, New Prague and Montgomery areas were notified that the Union Pacific Railroad, which operates the tracks through the three communities, had received permission to increase the speed of trains from 10 to 30 miles per hour.

While that may not seem like much of a difference to some, consider the size of these trains and their ability to stop. Even when going 10 miles per hour, it takes quite a while to stop a train. When it is going 30 miles per hour, the stopping time and distance increases greatly.

That is why the City of New Prague, the Minnesota Department of Transportation, and Scott and Le Sueur counties are studying the installation of crossing arms at three intersections in the city: on 12th Street NW, Seventh Street NW and Fifth Street SW. Two other intersections: Main Street and Second Street NW, already have this safety feature.

Recently the city was notified that the Minnesota Department of Transportation Railroad Administration office has been in talks with Union Pacific Railroad regarding these uncontrolled crossings as well as a number of other crossings in the Jordan to Montgomery segment.

The first step is to conduct a diagnostic review at each of the crossings. These reviews involve the city, county, MnDOT and the railroad working together to determine which intersections need upgrading.

Here's hoping these reviews proceed quickly. Two of these crossings in particular are located near the schools and have a great deal of bus traffic each day. The crossing at 12th Street NW sees hundreds of cars driven by high school students each day.

With trains going faster than in the past, it is prudent that the review process also be accelerated, and these intersections be upgraded to protect the drivers and passengers in the many cars, trucks and school buses that cross over these tracks each day.

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