Motorists and pedestrians have been experiencing gate malfunctions and false signals along the Canadian National (CN) Railway for the past several months. Affected crossings include 9th Street and along the track from 2nd Street to Division Street. The false signals caused delays for motorists and pedestrians, increasing safety concerns as motorists and pedestrians have been observed bypassing the gates when they were down and signals were active without trains present.
Over the past several months, Congressman Dan Lipinski (IL-3), along with State and City officials have been working with CN to address the false signals and determine the cause. As Chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee’s Subcommittee on Railroads, Pipelines and Hazardous Materials, Congressman Lipinski has been an integral part in advocating for the community and working directly with CN to address the issue.
In February 2019, City officials including Mayor Steven Streit, Alderman Darren Deskin, City Administrator Ben Benson, and Chief of Police Terry Lemming, met with CN, the Illinois Department of Transportation, Illinois Commerce Commission’s Rail Safety Section, and Illinois State Senator Mike Hastings (19th District) in Springfield. CN’s Signals & Communications Department, Transportation Department, and CN Police have been working with the equipment manufacturer to help troubleshoot the issue. CN implemented the following changes: 1. adjusted the settings on the crossing sensor equipment in full compliance with safety regulations, and 2) shortened the length of the area in which trains are detected by circuitry. This required directing the trains to
run slower to insure that the tracks close with enough time to notify users.
Once CN implemented these changes, they continued to closely monitor their affects. CN has reported a reduction in the number of errant signal activations. CN has provided a detailed plan below regarding the improvements that are expected to occur within the next couple of weeks.
2nd Street Crossing – CN is resurfacing the roadway and replacing sidewalk for thpedestrian crossing. The crossing will be closed to all traffic May 18-19.
8 th Street Crossing – Reconstruction of the pedestrian crossing including the track bridge to the north. These improvements will be similar to those made at the 10th and
11th Street crossings in 2018. The City has also asked CN and State agencies to consider another type of pedestrian gate design at the crossing to improve pedestrian safety. Work is expected to occur May 13-17.
9th Street Crossing – Installation of longer mast arms is anticipated later this month, provided materials are available. The current IDOT State Street project includes striping
updates to allow for longer stall lanes. The City is also working with CN to facilitate additional improvements at the 9th Street crossing in 2020.
Division Street Crossing – Track replacement, drainage improvements, ballast replacement, roadway resurfacing, and curb and gutter replacement. The crossing will be closed to all traffic May 13-17.
At the Metra Street Station along 13th Street, the City has requested that Metra, ICC, IDOT, and CN evaluate design implementation of pedestrian gates and crossings. If this project is determined to be performed under previously awarded grant funding, finalized designs and installations are to be installed by the end of 2020.
The City continues to work with CN, IDOT, Metra, and the Illinois Commerce Commission (ICC) to determine and implement a long-term solution. The City received a $1.025M grant in May 2018, awarded by IDOT and the ICC through the Railway- Highways Crossing (Section 130) Program and Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act.
The City and awarding agencies are further evaluating projects performed through this funding in light of recent developments. The City has allocated funding in its FY 2019 Budget and Capital Improvement Plan to compliment future project plans and for potential grant funding match requirements.
City of Lockport Press Release