One of the busiest rail crossings in Iowa is now using a system that the Iowa Department of Transportation hopes will keep motorists from getting stranded on the tracks when a train is coming. Jim Gibson of the D.O.T. says as the vehicle comes up to the crossing, the first gate at the crossing will activate, and if a car goes past that gate, a loop detector will keep the gate on the other side from lowering until the vehicle is clear. The system was installed at the Duff Avenue crossing in Ames near the downtown area.
Gibson says this will prevent the car from going into the crossing the second gate blocking the path and leaving the car on the tracks. Gibson says it’s a system that’s been used in other states. Gibson says the Union Pacific has installed over two dozen of the systems in other states, but it is the first time this type of technology and system is being used in the state of Iowa.
Gibson says the high level of traffic led to 18 car-train crashes at this crossing since 1978. Gibson says approximately 14,500 vehicles use the crossing every day, with some 66 trains going through every day. The crossing system cost 315-thousand dollars, with federal rail funds paying 90-percent of the cost and the railroad paying the remaining amount.