You Ask, We Answer: Why are not all railroad crossings equipped with the same warning signs?

You Ask, We Answer

There are two types of warnings at railroad crossings in Arkansas

NORTHWEST ARKANSAS (KNWA/KFTA) – In this week’s ‘You Ask, We Answer’ report, KNWA’s Katelynn Zoellner found out why not all railroad crossings are equipped with the same warning signs.

Why are there full lights and bars at some railroad crossings, but no lights or bars at other crossings?

Resident in Northwest Arkansas

Ron Sparks, Chief of Police for the Arkansas & Missouri Railroad, said there are two types of warnings at railroad crossings. Active warning signs include gates, lights and any other electrical device. Passive signs include stop, yield or crossbuck signs.

A crossing with active warning signs costs $250,000 to install, according to Sparks. The state only has so much money, so he said the state uses its own formula to prioritize crossing improvements.

“They (Arkansas Department of Transportation) come out and do a diagnostic and they put you on a hazard rating with some data they’ve collected such as how many trains go through there a day, how much traffic is there, how many tracks are there, they have all types of data,” he said.

So, if the state has money to pay for ten railroad crossings with active warning signs, it will choose the top ten on its hazard rating list.

“I often tell people, you can’t just put a crossing in no matter how wealthy you are just because you want it there because it’s at the end of your business or your own personal driveway,” Sparks said. “It has to be approved by the state department of transportation.”

There are 364 railroad crossings along the Arkansas-Missouri line with 29 of them in Northwest Arkansas. Most of the crossings in Northwest Arkansas are equipped with active warning signs.

If there is something in your community that you want to know more about, we want to look into it. You can send your questions to Katelynn at KZoellner@KNWA.com.

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