County to see railroad intersection safety improvements

Bartholomew County Commissioners are moving forward with a plan to improve railroad crossing safety at several major rural intersections in the county.

The commissioners approved an agreement Monday with the railroad and INDOT to install flashing lights and crossing arms at the three crossings at County Roads 650N, 800N and 950S also known as Jackson Street in Jonesville. Along with already existing agreements for Speasr Street and 550N, improvements should be completed at all five intersections by the end of the summer.

County Engineer Danny Hollander said that the improvements have been in the works for several years and have been waiting for federal funding. Hollander said that all the county railroad intersections with more than 400 vehicles a day in traffic are in the process of being upgraded.

Each crossing will cost about a quarter of a million dollars to upgrade, of which 10 percent would come from the county — or about $24,000 in local dollars each — and the rest from federal dollars. The railroad has agreed to pay the local match for the Spears Street and Road 550N improvements.

Hollander said the equipment and materials to improve the crossings are already being staged at each location.

Commissioner Larry Kleinhenz pointed out that there have been several fatalities at county railroad crossings and the county has been pushing for improvements for about 10 years.