The city is pursuing avenues for improvements to the railroad crossing where an Athens teen was killed Chief Buddy Hill told the city council on Monday.
On January 25, an Athens Independent School District bus was hit by a westbound Union Pacific train at Cream Level Road. A 13-year-old boy died and a 9-year-old girl was injured in the collision. The 78-year-old bus driver has been indicted in connection with the wreck.
"I did meet with the UP representative who specializes in crossings," Hill said. "We talked about ways we might go about acquiring a crossing. It's best for us to work with the TxDOT representative, liaison with UP."
"There are many federal dollars that are given down to the states each year to fund those programs," Hill said. "
The city can work through the agencies to see if it qualifies for any of the money for the intersection where the wreck occurred or any other crossing that might be dangerous.
"There's always the alternative," Hill said. "If the funding is not available, that if the city wanted to offer up the money to change what is happening at a crossing, that's possible too. But as you might imagine, the crossing and the engineering behind it would be quite expensive."
Hill said the city is currently collecting data regarding the crossing to give TxDOT.
"There are several things we're going to offer up as maybe justification as to why they should spend some money," Hill said.
Like the pending traffic light at the intersection of Texas 31 and CR 1616, the wheels turn slowly on such projects.
"After you get the paperwork signed, it's usually 16 months before something goes in place," Hill said.
Operation Lifesaver.com reports 270 deaths in 2018 involving railroad crossings or people trespassing on the tracks. That's almost the same as 2017, when 271 deaths were reported. States with the most crossing collisions in 2018 were Texas, California, Indiana, Georgia, Illinois, Florida, Louisiana, Alabama, Ohio and Pennsylvania.