Deadly Arkansas Railway Crossing Accidents Worry Officials

Representatives from Ashdown, Ark., and the Kansas City Southern Railway Co. say that after the death of another motorist in a train-vehicle accident they need to discuss again whether to close any of five crossings in the city.

Bobbie Calloway, 41, died Nov. 23 when a train struck her car. Hers was the fourth death at an Ashdown crossing since 2009.

Mayor Carroll McLarty placed a train-crossing discussion on Monday’s city council agenda. Council members have rejected previous attempts to close crossings.

Railroad spokeswoman Doniele Carlson said Kansas City Southern suggested two options previously and is ready to talk to the city again.

railroad crossing signThe railroad most-recent proposal would have seen the railroad and state pay to close two crossings and upgrade lights and gates at the three remaining intersections. An earlier one would have given the city money for each crossing it closed – with no restrictions on how the community used the funds.

“However, the city has taken no action on either offer,” Carlson said.

McLarty told the Texarkana Gazette that residents want all crossings to remain open.

“The public does not want to close any crossings, yet we have certain obligations to protect us against ourselves and drivers trying to beat trains,” McLarty told the newspaper. “We’ve had three public meetings and numerous special sessions and workshops. Any citizens who attended the session said they opposed closing a crossing.”

He said the crossings have been part of the town for 100 years and that each crossing serves a portion of the community.

Ashdown Police Capt. Mark Ardwin suggested slowing the trains down through Ashdown. “A lower speed reduces the impact of the collision,” he said.

He said drivers often do not pay attention, while others try to beat the train through a crossing.

“Cars are better insulated and reduces the sound of the warning by the train’s warning horn,” he said.