Rail Safety Week in Eau Claire

Published: Sep. 21, 2023 at 5:04 PM CDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) - Rail Safety Week was created by Operation Lifesaver to educate people all over the country on how to be safe near the rails.

“We go out trying to make awareness to what happens on railroad tracks, the tragedies that could happen across the safer tracks, what the hazards of trespassing on rural property is. We just basically try to get that education out there. The dangers around railroad tracks. It’s not just this week, but this week we put a strong, very emphasis on it. The reason is every 3 hours in the united states, either a person or a vehicle was hit by the train”, says Gary Koerner from Wisconsin Operation Lifesaver.

According to Operation Lifesaver, Wisconsin is amongst the top 25 states in railroad crossing accidents.

“Last year there were 40 crashes and 11 trespasser incidents. Those stats are a little misleading just because the thing is, is that those are the ones that are recorded for a federal railroad administration. It doesn’t take into account all the near-misses that would happen or the trespassing that’s happening out there that they don’t get hit. So, I mean, it’s out there. It’s very widespread and we need to correct that”, says Koerner.

One of the more dangerous spots is right here on Galloway street, where not only traffic crosses over the railroad tracks, but also pedestrians.

“This one rated high with the exposure of the future risk that occurred with having pedestrians, bicyclists and vehicles all crossing the train tracks at this location. But thankfully enough, we have not had a fatal crash at this location”, says City Engineering Director of Eau Claire.

To prevent accidents from ever occurring, Galloway Street will be moved to create an overpass for trains to travel under as well as pedestrians. This was made possible when the city of Eau Claire applied for a grant from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Legislation bill created for rail safety improvements.

“We submitted the application. And thankfully enough with with the criteria, the federal rail administration saw fit to award this project to Eau Claire. And this was the only one that I’m aware of in the state of Wisconsin that received funding in that program”, says Solberg.

This project was granted $12.5 million from the bill.