Drivers want crossing bars as train traffic increase on Mishawaka railroad

By  | 

PENN TOWNSHIP, Ind. (WNDU) - A railroad crossing near McKinley Highway and Bittersweet Road is causing new concern for area drivers.

"I think it's unsafe as of right now," resident Anthony Wilson said.

Unsafe because many people thought these tracks were inactive. Now, they're having to watch for trains without the help of crossing bars or lights.

Wilson said he and his friend had a close call Thursday.

"We were driving across. We didn't really see anything and we had to slow down, and there was a train right there," he said.

Pioneer Railcorp, which owns the line, told NewsCenter 16 the tracks were always being used, just infrequently. But the perhaps monthly trains have now become weekly, thanks to new business started earlier this year. Freight trains now bring in supplies that are trucked to a company in Goshen.

"The nice thing about this particular crossing and our operations is that we are a short line,"said Nathan Johns, vice president of marketing at Pioneer Railcorp. "We're running 5 miles an hour, we're typically only operating during daylight hours and typically just during the week, Monday through Friday."

The solution for many drivers is to add more safety features here. But some residents also say vehicles just go too fast.

"They tend to go 40-45 miles an hour here, and we have had head-on collisions here last summer," resident Frank Rivera said.

Rivera lives near the tracks and said he can hear the trains from his house. He agrees that crossing bars would definitely help improve safety, but he also wants drivers to slow down.

NewsCenter 16 reached out to the St. Joseph County Sheriff's Office, who also contacted the rail company to find a solution. Pioneer Railcorp said it will make sure the trains continue to move slowly as they approach the intersection.

Drivers who want more signage or safety features at the crossing can start by contacting the St. Joseph County Public Works Department.