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Jun 22, 2010 11:28 AM by Melissa Canone

4 Teens Died: Railroad Crossing Had No Crossbars or Signal Lights

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) - At least nine collisions have occurred
at the railroad crossing where four teenagers died Friday,
according to the Louisiana Department of Transportation and
Development.
The site near Independence has no crossbars or signal lights and
has long been recommended by the state for closure.
During the past 30 years, five fatalities have occurred in nine
collisions at the Capace Road Crossing, Dustin Annison of DOTD said
Monday.
Tangipahoa Parish President Gordon Burgess said he's not
surprised at that number.
In the past, DOTD has recommended the site be closed, but the
parish council has not taken action to do so, Burgess said.
DOTD originally recommended closure of the site in 1998, DOTD
spokeswoman Jodi Conachen said Monday.
"We recommended closure because it was a redundant crossing,"
she said, adding that people who use that crossing have access to a
crossing that does have lights and safety arms.
DOTD again recommended the Capace Road crossing be closed after
two men were killed in June 2008 when their pickup truck was struck
by an Amtrak train as they crossed a private crossing nearby, at
the Diamond B asphalt company. That crossing also does not have
warning lights or signal arms.
Officials with Canadian National Railroad and DOTD held meetings
with the parish council that year about closing crossings,
including Capace Road, Burgess said.
Burgess and Councilman Carlo Bruno both said Monday there was
public opposition to the closure at that time. Instead, the parish
and DOTD installed stop, caution and yield signs at the site,
Burgess said.
On Friday afternoon, a pregnant 18-year-old woman and her three
young siblings died when an Amtrak train struck their van at the
crossing.
Their van was crossing the track westbound and failed to stop
for the oncoming train, said Dennis Pevey, chief deputy of the
Tangipahoa Parish Sheriff's Office.
The southbound locomotive was sounding its horn when the crash
occurred, said Marc Magliari, a spokesman for Amtrak's Chicago
office.
The maximum speed that Amtrak's "City of New Orleans" travels
in the area of the accident is 79 mph, Magliari said.
He said he did not know if the train was traveling that fast
when the wreck occurred.
The Canadian National Railroad's New Orleans-to-Chicago tracks,
which are used by Amtrak as well as by freight trains, run through
all eight of the parish's municipalities.
Capace Road ends at a T-junction at North Railroad Avenue, just
north of Independence. Capace Road parallels North Railroad Avenue
briefly before continuing eastward.
Other crossings with lights and arms link North Railroad Avenue
to U.S. 51.

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