BLUE ISLAND, Ill. (CBS) — CSX Railroad said Wednesday that it is solving a dangerous situation at a crossing in Blue Island, after CBS 2 highlighted the problem.
At the crossing at 135th Place and Western Avenue, drivers have been going around crossing gates that often seem to be down for no reason – and with no indication whether a train could be coming.
People who live and work around the tracks say they have been reporting the issue, but it hadn’t been fixed.
At the crossing on Wednesday, the gates were up and traffic was flowing freely – a return to normalcy that Elwood Roeske said he has been awaiting for awhile now.
“It’s been the same for two years,” Roeske said.
Roeske works at an auto body shop a few feet from the tracks. On Tuesday, he captured video of what he said he usually sees in the evenings – the gate down as if a train were coming when one is not, and commuters so used to it that they take a risk and drive right past it.
“That’s a hazard,” Roeske said.
It went on despite what the people in the area call years of pleas for a fix.
“I’ve called several times. My neighbors have called several times. The people on the other side of the street have called several times,” Roeske said.
CBS 2’s Molina reported the problem Tuesday on the incident line number that was posted on a sign next to the crossing. Molina then followed up with CSX, which is responsible for the crossing.
They told CBS 2 they’d look into it.
“We’ve actually needed somebody to investigate this for awhile now,” Roeske said.
So CBS 2 followed up on Wednesday. Our morning crews captured CSX technicians at the crossing.
The company’s media team released a statement Monday evening:
“Safety is CSX’s highest priority. We work to limit operational impacts on the communities we serve, like the delays experienced by commuters in Chicago yesterday due to a signal malfunction at 135th and Western. We understand a signal malfunction at railroad crossings can be frustrating, but it is vital not to ignore the lowered gates. CSX operates trains 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Crossing signals are designed to operate in a fail-safe mode, which lowers the crossing gates to warn the public of potential train movements on the tracks or when a mechanical issue occurs in the system.
“We remind the public that any activity on or near tracks, including going around lowered gates, is extremely dangerous and illegal. Crossings are where people most frequently interact with trains, and unfortunately accidents between trains and pedestrians or vehicles are all too common. At least one person or vehicle is hit by a train every three hours in the United States. In the event that a crossing signal malfunction is encountered, CSX urges the public to call 1-800-232-0144. the emergency number posted at each crossing and we will respond as quickly as possible.
CSX immediately dispatched technicians to the crossing upon notification of the issue yesterday and completed necessary repairs. The signal systems along our entire network are inspected at least every month. This crossing is being observed by CSX today, and will be in the days ahead, in an effort to ensure that the equipment continues to function properly.”
CSX did not explain how that monthly inspection could miss the problem with the gates being down, as CBS 2 saw for an hour on Tuesday.
“Progress,” Roeske said. “At least there’s progress.”
CSX representatives said they will have technicians at the crossing this week to make sure the gate works, and CBS 2 will follow up.