BATON ROUGE – Participants at the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development’s (DOTD) Railroad Crossing Safety Conference, held Thursday, March 24, proposed several short-term and long-term solutions to increase railroad crossing safety.
Governor Kathleen Babineaux Blanco opened the session with a personal story of how her grandfather died at a railroad crossing.
Blanco stressed that, “this is not just a problem of money. It is a problem of awareness. We need to do more to educate our drivers about the dangers of rail crossings.”
To support the renewed push for driver awareness, Governor Blanco announced that she has recorded a 30-second radio public service announcement. In the PSA, Governor Blanco urges drivers to always look and listen for a train at crossings.
Among the ideas that came from the conference participants are:
· Proposed legislation to allow the state to close dangerous local or parish owned crossings.
· Increased funding for public education and driver awareness programs.
· Placing a railroad crossing safety logo on vehicle inspection stickers.
Long-term solutions include more and better cooperation among state, local and federal authorities, and the railroad companies.
DOTD’s Secretary, Johnny B. Bradberry, offered the DOTD to “act as a focal point for action.
“We have identified opportunities,” Bradberry said. “Now, all we have to do is the hard work of implementation.”
DOTD held the emergency Railroad Crossing Safety Conference to collectively address the need for improved safety at the state’s 3,017 railroad crossings.
The one day conference took place at the Holiday Inn Select on Constitution Avenue in Baton Rouge.
The intent of the meeting was to bring together various stakeholders to identify individual and shared strategies to improve railroad crossing safety.
Participants included representatives from the railroad companies, Louisiana Municipal Association, Police Jury Association, Operation Lifesaver, Federal Highway Administration, Federal Railroad Administration, Louisiana Highway Safety Commission Tangipahoa Parish Citizens Group, Louisiana State Police, and U.S. Senator David Vitter’s Office.