One year after fatal accident, RR crossing improvements not done

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One year ago, the Notre Dame Football team played a Shamrock Series game in Chicago. As a South Shore train carried fans back to South Bend, it collided with an SUV in western St. Joseph County, killing the driver.

Friends and relatives of 22 year old Ryan Voreis gathered at the trackside scene of the crash today to honor a life cut-short.

”No, it doesn’t seem like a year at all, it feels like, it’s not even been like a month, it feels like everyone still remembers like it was yesterday,” said Ryan’s brother, Josh Voreis.

Participants established a permanent memorial marker by erecting an orange steel cross with Ryan’s name on it.

But what Ryan’s brother would really like to see built at the site is a new crossing gate. Right now there is no gate on the north approach on Pine Road where South Shore passenger trains zip by at 70-miles per hour, and where Ryan’s SUV entered the crossing on the night of the accident.

“I mean, I hope it happens, they said it was going to happen, we got petitions all signed up just in case, if it does need to come to that point, I don’t know what’s happening with it all,” said Josh Voreis.

Melissa Jones helped pass the petitions and shares in the frustration. “It should have been done immediately after but a year? It doesn’t seem like it should take that long.”

Matt Deitchley, a spokesman for the Indiana Department of Transportation said that the crossing improvements are still being designed, and that the work would commence next year. “We’re actually fast tracking this, this project, I know from the public’s standpoint it may not seem that way where it would take a year to get something like this done, but if you consider the average road project can take one to five years to get actually to the construction phase because the planning and the designs, so we're actually moving as quickly as we can on this project due to the necessity of it.”

Part of the delay stems from the fact that there are two separate sets of track used by two different railroads, “What takes a little longer time to get these upgrades done is you have to coordinate with both railroads, and INDOT is not actually the ones doing the work, we coordinate with those railroads for them to actually do the work we’re overseeing,” said Deitchley.

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