In response to vehicle crashes at the railroad crossing at Calhoun Dairy Drive, north of Rosepine, crossing arms will be installed as a safety measure. This decision was announced at a town-hall-style meeting Tuesday at the Leesville Municipal Golf Course
Local resident Carol Shaw, who organized the meeting, saw the scene of the recent accident and decided something needed to be done. “I saw the car turned over. I said okay we have to have an answer about what’s going on,” Shaw said.
Louisiana State Railroad Coordinator Gretchen Ferguson announced at the meeting that the railroad crossing arms would be installed in August and will be fully operational by the end of that month.
This project has been in the works for the past two years and it is a long process to get the funds to install guard arms, Ferguson said.
“We would love to build the arms at every crossing, but we have only so much money,” Ferguson said. “The state of Louisiana has about 2700 railroad crossings all over the state.
“We do our best to prioritize our money and put in crossings where there is the most need.”
The particular guard arms planned for the train crossing at Calhoun Dairy Drive are expected to cost around $257,000.
Following Ferguson’s comments, presentations on train safety were given by done by Richard Washington of Operation Lifesaver and Larry Smith, a train investigator with 30 years of railroad experience.
Afterwards, the experts stayed to answer train safety questions from the audience.
There have been seven accidents in the past five years involving trains colliding with vehicles crossing the tracks.
The most recent train crash on May 15 involved a mother and child as their car was impacted by a northbound train. The vehicle flipped into a nearby ditch after the train struck its right rear side.
The two were airlifted to Rapides Regional Medical Center where they were treated for minor injuries.
The mother and her child were traveling to the subdivision across the railroad tracks on Calhoun Dairy Drive.
There is only one way in or out of the subdivision and it involves crossing the railroad tracks. Due to the number of residents at the subdivision, the railroad crossing receives a high volume of back and forth traffic.
The news of the soon-to-be-installed crossing arms received a positive response from residents at the meeting. “We are so glad that the crossing arms are coming,” Shaw said. “This is a blessing.”