Repair of rail crossing guards cost taxpayers thousands

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SALT LAKE CITY -- Impatient drivers are costing Utah taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars, according to the Utah Transit Authority.

Last year, UTA had to spend about $250,000 to repair rail crossing guards after drivers had crashed into them.

“This is the highest we have had at UTA,” said chief safety officer Dave Goeres.

In the last few years, as the rail lines have increased, so have the costs of repairing them.

“We’re spending a lot of money repairing things that are caused by people running through, running into our gate arms every year,” Goeres said. “If a car hits it, it will break.”

Goeres is talking about the rail guards that go up and down before and after a train comes through.

There are 157 of them spanning from Ogden to Provo. In 2013, UTA had to make 257 repairs to them, revisiting some stops 32 times.

“We average about a $1,000 a repair. So, that was $257,000, or a little over a quarter million dollars, last year just to repair gates and mechanical devices,” Goeres said. “That’s about the cost of a local bus route for a year.”

It’s all because of drivers who refuse to stop, according to Goeres, who said they even spent thousands of dollars to put in warning signs in hopes of saving money down the line.

“This is our money. UTA is funded by local tax money,” Goeres said. “The money we’re collecting in our taxes is going towards repairing when we could put it towards something else.”

And if the messages on the road don’t resonate with drivers, Goeres is hoping that one will, convincing drivers to spend a few extra seconds on the road, waiting, rather than thousands of dollars on the tracks.

“I think it’s unnecessary. People should be responding appropriately and they should read the signs and follow the instructions,” said one motorist, who was stopped at 2100 South, waiting for the train to pass.

According to UTA, drivers can be fined $115 for running red lights at grade crossing stops. However, that penalty, doesn’t equate the cost in damage, typically.

“We’re spending money on stuff that people need to stop. They just need to stop, that’s it,” said another motorist.

3 comments

  • cpease

    I believe the (uta) needs to also monitor their gates. With the dual tracks one train will go by on the track and gate will go up and lights go off, you slowly proceed and before you can get through, the lights pop back on and the gates are coming down, because the train on the other track sets off the gates to come down before you can clear the tracks. This might help some of their problems if they were to make it so the arms stayed down when trains on each side are travelling within minutes of setting off the device to make them go up and down within minutes sometimes seconds of eachother. I think it happens more often near the stations when they pull into station that is near a road crossing. i.e happen to me by the IMC station, luckily I made it through before the arm came down on the opposite side. Before I proceeded the lights were off and both arms were up I was not trying to rush at all, I was being cautious.

  • rudy sams

    EXTREME TANK CAR HAZARD
    Please help First Responders ask federal Administrators to consider adding secondary containment to rail tank cars used to transport chlorine gas, providing lifesaving safety to First Responders and the public they serve. See First Responders Comments at PETITION C KIT.

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