BLUE ISLAND, Ill. (CBS) — Drivers zoom right past the flashing gates at a railroad crossing in Blue Island – and they know it’s dangerous.
But they say the gate has been broken, despite years of requests for a fix. CBS 2’s Tara Molina took drivers’ concerns right to the people who should have fixed the problem.
Molina first reported the issue to an emergency line, and then reached out to CSX, which owns the railroad. Residents are more than fed up with one stretch in Blue Island at 135th Place and Western Avenue.
If gates go down and bells start ringing at a railroad crossing, you stop. It is a safety concern and it’s the law.
But in Blue Island, the flashing lights and lowered crossing arms don’t mean as much. Drivers go right through.
“This happens every day,” said Curtis Coleman, who works nearby. “Every day.”
This is because the gates malfunction. Train or no train, they are always down.
“Most people just drive straight through,” Coleman said.
And those drivers are taking a big chance.
“A big chance – I took a chance walking across it,” Coleman said.
“They need to do something about this!” said Jameeka Jones, who lives nearby. “This is taking up too much time. It’s hot out here.”
Molina and her crew watched the crossing gate stay down for a whole hour, while car after car went right through.
Molina called the emergency line to report it right away. But the man who works in the auto parts shop just feet away says he’s been there, done that.
“When you call them, you get no response,” he said. “Call Blue Island police, call the State of Illinois, call the Department of Transportation – nobody comes out.”
CBS 2 followed up on those calls, dug a little deeper and found out the line is a CSX line. The auto parts shop employee said the problem has been going on for more than two years.
CSX told CBS 2 that safety is their top priority and they were looking into it Tuesday night.
A while later, CBS 2 saw a CSX employee here monitoring the gates. And lo and behold, they went up as they were supposed to.
Malfunction or not, drivers can face a minimum fine of $500 for driving through railroad gates, and a $1,000 fine for a second offense – with a possible 6 month license suspension. But a lot of drivers were doing it anyway on Tuesday.
CBS 2 will follow up with CSX on the issue.