At least nine collisions have occurred at the railroad crossing where four teenagers died on June 18, according to the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development.
The site near Independence, La., has no crossbars or signal lights and has long been recommended by the state for closure.
During the past 30 years, five fatalities have occurred in nine collisions at the Capace Road Crossing, Dustin Annison of DOTD said.
Tangipahoa Parish President Gordon Burgess said he’s not surprised at that number.
In the past, DOTD has recommended the site be closed, but the parish council has not taken action to do so, Burgess said.
DOTD originally recommended closure of the site in 1998, DOTD spokeswoman Jodi Conachen said.
“We recommended closure because it was a redundant crossing,” she said, adding that people who use that crossing have access to a crossing that does have lights and safety arms.
DOTD again recommended the Capace Road crossing be closed after two men were killed in June 2008 when their pickup truck was struck by an Amtrak train as they crossed a private crossing nearby, at the Diamond B asphalt company. That crossing also does not have warning lights or signal arms.
Officials with Canadian National Railroad and DOTD held meetings with the parish council that year about closing crossings, including Capace Road, Burgess said.
Burgess and Councilman Carlo Bruno both said there was public opposition to the closure at that time. Instead, the parish and DOTD installed stop, caution and yield signs at the site, Burgess said.
On the afternoon of June 18, a pregnant 18-year-old woman and her three young siblings died when an Amtrak train struck their van at the crossing.
Their van was crossing the track westbound and failed to stop for the oncoming train, said Dennis Pevey, chief deputy of the Tangipahoa Parish Sheriff’s Office.
The southbound locomotive was sounding its horn when the crash occurred, said Marc Magliari, a spokesman for Amtrak’s Chicago office.
The maximum speed that Amtrak’s “City of New Orleans” travels in the area of the accident is 79 mph, Magliari said.
He said he did not know if the train was traveling that fast when the wreck occurred.
The Canadian National Railroad’s New Orleans-to-Chicago tracks, which are used by Amtrak as well as by freight trains, run through all eight of the parish’s municipalities.
Capace Road ends at a T-junction at North Railroad Avenue, just north of Independence. Capace Road parallels North Railroad Avenue briefly before continuing eastward.
Other crossings with lights and arms link North Railroad Avenue to U.S. 51.
Information from: The Advocate
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