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MoDOT won't specify why Amtrak crash site crossing was on improvement list

Mendon train crossing crash derailment Amtrak
Posted at 6:52 PM, Jun 28, 2022

MENDON, Mo. — The KSHB 41 I-Team is taking a closer look at the railroad crossing at the center of the deadly train derailment in Mendon, Missouri.

The crossing on Porche Prairie Avenue was on a statewide list to receive improvements.

"Absolutely could've been prevented," Mike Spencer, who wants the railroad crossing fixed, said.

Spencer complained about the railroad crossing long before the deadly train derailment. The farmer goes over the crossing in Mendon at least three times a week.

"It has no signal lights or arms on it. The track sits at an angle to the road," Spencer said.

Two weeks ago, he took a video of a freight train to show people what they could face.

The latest Missouri State Freight and Rail Plan shows a list of proposed improvements. Crossing safety improvements on "Porche Prairie Road" in Mendon were on the list.

The report said that could include the installation of lights and gates and roadway improvements. It's estimated to cost $400,000.

The KSHB 41 I-Team emailed the Missouri Department of Transportation on Tuesday.

A spokeswoman did not answer the question directly of why the crossing was on the list, but wrote several factors are considered in the process.

They include the number of trains using the track, the number of cars using the cross street, public concerns and sight distance issues.

"There's a lot of brush up and down the sides of the track that block the view of the vehicles crossing the track," Spencer said.

Spencer would like to see the brush cleaned up. He also wants the approach to the crossing built up and for lights and crossing arms to be installed.

"I would've fixed this crossing myself if I could've to have avoided this," Spencer said.

MoDOT said the project has been approved, but there's still a process to get it done.

The next step involves MoDOT, BNSF Railway and Chariton County coming up with a solution and a timeline. That hasn't happened yet.

Chariton County Commissioner Evan Emmerich said he has not been given any sort of timeline for when the project would take place.

BNSF Spokeswoman Lena Kent said she was not aware of the statewide improvement plan that included the Mendon railroad crossing.

She also told the 41 I-Team BNSF has not been approached by MoDOT about solutions or a timeline yet.

Kent said a site visit with MoDOT and Chariton County would be needed to look at the crossing to see what improvements would be needed.

The 41 I-Team requested an interview with MoDOT, but a spokeswoman did not make anyone available on Tuesday.

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