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41 I-Team finds 5 passenger rail crossings similar to location of deadly Amtrak derailment

Railroad crossing near Norborne MO
Posted at 4:08 PM, Jul 07, 2022
and last updated 2022-07-07 18:10:09-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo.  — Before the deadly Amtrak derailment near Mendon, Missouri, locals complained about the road's steep incline leading up to the railroad crossing and brush blocking the view of oncoming trains.

The crossing also doesn't have lights or gates.

Those lights and gates were part of improvements the state approved, with the funding in place but the work years away.

The Mendon crossing is not the only one. The KSHB 41 I-Team looked at other railroad crossings the Missouri Department of Transportation flagged for improvements.

We found those in MoDOT's February Rail Plan Report.

We plugged the crossing numbers into the Federal Railroad Administration website to see which crossings carry both passenger and freight trains.

Passenger trains, like Amtrak, can go up to 90 miles an hour.

We found out five crossings are like the Mendon crossing, where both passenger and freight trains go by: Hardin, Norborne, two locations near Triplett and Bucklin.

KSHB 41 put together an interactive map of the locations which can be found below:

In the map, it details the estimated amount it would cost to complete the repairs, as well as what repairs are needed.

These crossings are also out in rural areas.

MoDOT's rail report says these five crossings need lights and gates.

The Triplett locations also need new crossing surfaces in addition to lights and gates.

The KSHB I-Team went to check out all five and as of Thursday, it appears none of these improvements have happened yet.

The Norborne location is on County Road 505, just outside the town.

Railroad crossing near Norborne MO
This railroad crossing on County Road 505 near Norborne is on a state list for needed improvements.

The Hardin location is on Hisinger Lake Road, just outside the town.

Hardin railroad crossing
This railroad crossing outside Hardin, Mo. is on a state list for needed improvements.
Hardin railroad crossing
Hardin railroad crossing needs improvements, including gates and lights.

The Bucklin location is on Meadow Road, a country road outside the town that locals say not many people drive on.

Bucklin railroad crossing
This railroad crossing outside Bucklin, Mo. is on a state list for needed improvements.

The two Triplett locations are about three miles down the track from the Amtrak crash site, on county roads 107 and 132.

Triplett railroad crossing 1
This railroad crossing near Triplett, Mo. is on a state list for improvements.
Triplett railroad crossing 2
Two railroad crossings near Triplett, Mo. are on state lists for improvements.

KSHB 41 News talked to Denny Utterback, longtime resident of Dean Lake, which is near Triplett and Mendon.

We asked if he thinks the nearby crossings are dangerous.

"To me, any crossing is dangerous," Utterback said. "These are more so because they're not gated."

While the crossings don't get a lot of traffic, Utterback says farmers frequently use them.

"Farming equipment nowadays is big and huge and these crossings we put in back in the 30s, they don't accommodate what I call the big equipment the farmer has," Utterback said.

Funding has already been identified for these issues but in an interview last week, MoDOT's director said the work may not start until 2025.

"We run generally a three-to-five-year time-frame once we get to the point of identifying the ones that are going to be agreed to and worked on," Patrick McKenna, MoDOT's director, said.

Utterback wants to see the state speed this up.

"I would like for the crossings to either be closed or fixed," Utterback said.