MONROE, Mich. – Trains simply can’t stop quickly, which is why we often see those black-and-white arms and flashing lights at train crossings.
But people in one local community wonder why that safety measure is at some crossings but missing from others.
Out of all the railroad crossings in the City of Monroe, it’s what’s missing on the east side that is raising a lot of concern for those in the area. It’s the lack of safety arms or gates.
“I’ve been here my whole life, and I’ve never seen arms on these tracks as dangerous as it is,” said Lynne White.
White and Kimberly Ruiz stress when they hear the trains running through Monroe as they worry because the railroad crossings they live closest to have no crossing arms.
“It is a safety concern with people flying through when the lights come on,” said Ruiz. “People aren’t paying attention to it because there are no arms coming down.”
White and Ruiz want crossing arms installed before someone else is killed. They also wonder why they’re not already there.
Wendie Duvall has a Similar mindset as her life was changed when she lost her childhood friend.
“She passed years ago, but she got hit on those backtracks, and then it was always a concern when we were kids,” said Duvall. “These tracks are really dangerous, you know.”
White says she lost a family member as well.
“They didn’t have arms up, and I had a cousin that was deaf in the community, and he was walking to the community center one afternoon, and a train was coming, but he couldn’t hear the horn, and he actually got hit and killed as a result of it,” White said.
We’re talking about the railroad tracks that run along Kentucky Avenue, which turns into Hull Road.
In the City of Monroe, there are at least four railroad crossings without any arms or gates. We did see crossing arms in Monroe Township.
Monroe NAACP chapter Communications Director Asia Hawthorne has concerns about how that looks.
“To the best of my knowledge, I’ve noticed safety arms everywhere else but not on our east side, and the east side is our lower income community and the highest influx of our people of color.,” said Hawthorne. “So, it’s our Black and brown community here in Monroe.”
The City of Monroe told Local 4 that the homes are too close for crossing arms. Also, if eastbound gate arms were to be placed in advance of Kentucky Avenue, they would likely be frequently violated by traffic wishing to turn onto Kentucky, creating an additional safety hazard and ambiguity of messaging.
The City of Monroe Director of Engineering said in a statement:
“We all need to be safe,” Hawthorne said. “We’re all walking and biking and strolling and driving over these train tracks.”
The City of Monroe says it’s continuing to look for opportunities and funding partners to make more improvements to the crossings in the future, including potentially relocating the railroad track altogether.
We want to point out that in 2011, Norfolk Southern worked with the city and MDOT to increase the size of the flashing lights at crossings that do not have safety arms.