Community, Creswell

LOW-COMMOTION! Creswell train crossing malfunctions prompt ODOT study

If you ever find yourself needing to report a problem or an emergency regarding the railroad train crossing in Creswell, call the number on the blue sign at the intersection of Oregon Avenue and Front Street, as seen in this photo. The other number is the U.S. Department of Transportation’s inventory number, which identifies the exact location of the crossing to the railroads. ERIN TIERNEY – THE CRESWELL CHRONICLE

If you were on your lunch break or out on the town last Tuesday and Wednesday, March 6 and 7, you were probably one of the many unfortunate souls stuck in a humongous line of traffic spanning Oregon Avenue for an unusually long time.
So, what was the hold-up?
”We have experienced back-to-back crossing arm malfunctions – one on Tuesday and another one on Wednesday,” City Administrator Michelle Amberg said.
Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) then conducted a railroad crossing investigation on Thursday, March 8 around 11:30 a.m. Amberg said that ODOT was testing the crossing and observed the traffic pre-emption – the traffic signals that will turn green to clear people from the tracks.
The study concluded that a rail bond – the wire that is attached to the rail sections to guarantee connectivity through the rails – became disconnected from the head of the rail. This was due to temperature fluctuation and natural wear and tear of the rail, Amberg said.
The sensors are looking out 1,500 feet for any type of train movement so they can predict the train’s speed while giving ample warning to the crossing that a train is coming, she said.
”When the bond is broken, it will place the system into what we call a ‘fail-safe design,’” Amberg said, noting the gates and lights will activate and any preemption will activate as intended.
”When you have a high-resistance break like this they can be challenging to find,” she said. ”You actually have to walk the tracks and pull on all of the bonds to find the one that broke.”
ODOT fully tested all aspects of the crossing to make sure that it is working as intended after the repairs were made on Wednesday, Amberg said.
”I also looked at the traffic signals, and the railroad is sending out the correct inputs to the traffic control devices and they are responding correctly,” she said.
If you ever run into an emergency or problem with the railroad crossing, there are a few things you can do. The U.S. Department of Transportation Federal Railroad Association suggests that emergencies at the grade crossing should be reported by using the information on the ENS sign by the tracks at the intersection of Front Street and Oregon Avenue. Call the emergency contact number listed on the blue sign. Communicate your location by providing the identification inventory number, which identifies the exact location of the crossing to the railroads and relay your concern to the dispatcher.
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