Gates coming to Bullitt County railroad crossing where driver di - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Gates coming to Bullitt County railroad crossing where driver died

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) – The Bullitt County railroad crossing where a 19-year-old driver was struck and killed by a CSX train last month is among dozens across Kentucky set to get safety gates.

The crossing near state Highway 1020 and East Blue Lick Road near Brooks has bells and flashing lights. CSX will determine a construction schedule for adding the gates once the state provides more money to cover a cost overrun, said Ryan Watts, spokesman for the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet.

The additional measures have been planned for several years. Kentucky provides federal money to railroads to help cover the cost of about 6 to 8 safety projects each year, Watts said.

The Blue Lick Road work is projected to cost more than the $240,000 that was previously budgeted. Kentucky transportation officials expect to receive the remaining $87,470 in federal money in the coming weeks.

Xavier Froeber died in the March 29 collision, according to the Bullitt County Coroner’s Office. A witness said he saw Froeber attempt to cross in front of the train, WDRB News reported.

CSX officials said none of the train’s crew was injured.

Based on interviews with witnesses and evidence at the scene, investigators concluded that “the subject that passed was deemed to be at fault in the matter,” said Hillview Police Chief Bill Mahoney. He declined to discuss the collision in detail because the crash could lead to a lawsuit.

It was the sixth crash and first fatal incident at the crossing since 2000, Federal Railroad Administration data shows. The crossing is the only one in Bullitt County scheduled to have gates installed, according to a state list that ranks projects based on factors such as vehicle and train traffic and crash history.  

Kentucky receives about $1.8 million for crossing-related work each year, with new gate installations costing roughly $250,000 to $500,000.

Adding gates doesn’t necessarily keep fatal crashes from happening, WDRB News reported last year. Over a five-year period in California, researchers found that nearly three-fourths of collisions between vehicles and trains occurred at crossings with gates.

And despite adding gates at 364 locations in Kentucky, those crossings still had 444 crashes once they were installed, according to state data.

Mahoney said last month’s fatal crash shows that drivers need to be aware of approaching trains as they near at-grade crossings. But he said he would like to see gates added at all crossings “to help prevent stuff like this from happening.”

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