Train site has history of crashes in Gilbert - East Valley Tribune: News

Train site has history of crashes in Gilbert

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Posted: Wednesday, April 4, 2007 6:19 am | Updated: 5:45 pm, Fri Oct 7, 2011.

A Union Pacific Railroad crossing on a private road where a man crashed his car on Monday has a history of collisions, police said Tuesday.

Gilbert Sgt. Andrew Duncan said a handful of crashes have occurred over the past decade at the intersection near Baseline and McQueen roads, although exact numbers were not immediately available.

“It’s very concerning to us at the Police Department,” Duncan said. “We have worked with Union Pacific and others as far as what we can do as police to mitigate the dangers regarding railroad crossings such as private ones.”

Edward Gilliam, 48, of Mesa, broke his leg and suffered a concussion Monday after colliding with a train a little before 3 p.m. The cause of the crash is still under investigation.

“I see people fly over the tracks all day long,” said Jerod Hoover, who works at the nearby Motor Pro shop for recycled car parts.

Hoover said he knows of three collisions at the crossing over the past three years.

“See that telephone pole?” he said, pointing next to the tracks. “It’s crooked from getting hit in the last crash.”

The tracks cross a paved, unnamed road where a stop sign is posted with another sign below alerting drivers to a “private crossing.”

There are no lights and no crossing arms. The only traffic passing through the area comes from drivers accessing local businesses and a nearby junkyard.

Private roads are controlled by the property owners and not maintained like a public road, said Union Pacific spokesman Joe Arbona. However, authorities often work with the owners to ensure the areas are safe.

Arbona said that half of all train collisions in the country occur at intersections where lights and crossing arms are present.

But Duncan said he is always on the lookout for any kind of unsafe intersection.

Duncan said about eight to 10 years ago, the town worked with property owners to close a particularly dangerous railroad crossing in the area of Neely Street just south of Guadalupe Road near Neely Traditional Academy.

“It was more unsafe than anything we’d ever seen,” Duncan said.

The crossing was over a canal and had a sharp curve that prevented clear view of an oncoming train.

“For the most part, when it comes to private crossings, those are handled with special agreements with the landowners,” Arbona said. “Sometimes we’ll close it or consolidate it, but it gets to be complicated.”

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