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By Carmen Ensinger
Three railroad crossings in Roodhouse and White Hall will soon become safer after the Illinois Commerce Commission approved the installation of new automatic flashing light signals and gates.
The lights and gates will be installed at the Kansas City-Southern (KCS) rail crossings at Cinderella Lane north of White Hall and Grand Avenue and Briggs Street in Roodhouse.
While the Cinderella Lane crossing is more of a rural crossing, the Grand Avenue and Briggs Street crossings in Roodhouse run parallel to Highway 67 and do pose a danger.
“I was present in the meeting when KCS proposed closing the Briggs and Grand Avenue locations,” Roodhouse Police Chief Kyle Robison said. “I appreciated the fact that KCS was conscious as to how closing the crossings would affect the two small businesses we have near those locations.”
Robison is referring to StemTations, formerly Price’s Country Gardens and Thompson’s Automotive.
“By allowing these safety improvements and keeping the traffic flowing, it gives those businesses an opportunity for continued growth,” Robison said.
The ICC has the statutory responsibility to improve safety at public highway rail crossings throughout the State of Illinois. Nationally, Illinois is second only to Texas to the total number of highway rail crossings with 7,557 public crossings with 749 on state roads and 6,808 on local roads.
For state roads, the Illinois Department of Transportation pays the majority of the costs through the State Road Fund. For local roads, the Grade Crossing Protection Fund (GCPF) was created to pay the majority of the costs of improvements.
The ICC created a five-year Improvement Plan through FY 2026 to address both local and state rail crossings.
The three crossings in White Hall and Roodhouse have a combined estimated cost at $1,124,500 and the ICC has recommended that the (GCPF) be used to pay up to 95 percent of the signal design and installation costs, not to exceed $1,068,275.
The remaining costs will be paid by KCS as well as the future operating and maintenance costs of the equipment.
The lights and gates are expected to be installed and operational within 18 months of the order date.