Elton railroad crossings need upgrade
Advanced technology is involved in every aspects our lives. Students in Jennings are learning reading, writing and arithmetic via electronic “smart boards” and handheld devices. Jennings American Legion Hospital partnered with a Lafayette hospital and the Louisiana Stroke Network (LSN) to welcome robot Nureaux, which allows the LSN to “beam-in” and assess a local patient and give recommendations to physicians. The Jeff Davis Parish Library system has an online catalog filled with digital books that can be downloaded to a personal handheld device.
With so much technology involved in everyday life, you have to wonder why some railroad crossings have no active warning devices such as flashing lights, gates or bells.
On Tuesday, three Elton individuals suffered minor injuries when the SUV they were in collided with a train. According to Louisiana State Police, the driver was crossing the tracks when she realized a train was approaching. She tried to reverse the vehicle but the train struck near the passenger side front tire, dragging the vehicle about 104 feet. Thankfully, no one suffered critical injuries or lost their life.
The story was much different nearly three years ago. A 19 year-old Elton man was killed in July 2010 when his truck was struck by a 67-car train. The crossing had no signals or cross arms. In a lawsuit later filed by his family against the Jeff Davis Parish Police Jury, the engineer and Union Pacific Railroad Company, the family alleged that the jury and railroad failed to properly control, remove and eradicate vegetation adjacent to the highway-railroad grade crossing, which obstructed the view of the railroad and traffic.
No matter the signs or technology present at a railroad crossing, we should all take precautions by stopping or yielding to determine if a train is approaching.
However, Elton residents and those who travel the area regularly know those crossings could use serious upgrades. Elton is a small town, so many homes and businesses are crowded around the tracks and vegetation grows steadily in many places. Those unfamiliar with the town are often accustomed to alerts such as flashing lights or gates when a train is approaching; in this fast-paced age, a stop sign is simply ineffective at a railroad crossing and leads to danger.
The point in asking for better prevention at the railroad crossings in Elton is not to point fingers at any one individual or group for the accidents that have taken place in the area; it’s to ensure that locals and travelers alike have a fair chance at crossing the tracks without being surprised by an approaching locomotive.
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