A Boise railroad crossing is the site of a light-equipped panel system that the Idaho Transportation Department and Ada County Highway District contend
A Boise railroad crossing is the site of a light-equipped panel system that the Idaho Transportation Department and Ada County Highway District contend will improve motorist safety and increase railroad efficiency. Circular in design, LED flashing red lights are built into individual railroad crossing panels on the north and south approaches of the Idaho Northern Pacific Railroad track. They were activated this fall to warn drivers of approaching trains and prevent cars from stopping on the track.
We’re hoping to change driver behavior at that crossing, says Joe Peagler, Idaho Transportation Department rail-highway safety coordinator. It’s a busy intersection, and the trains slow down to five miles per hour because people stop on the tracks.
Peagler also reports that an average of two trains and 30,000 cars use the crossing each day. While trains are normally allowed to travel at 25 mph, they have to reduce speed because of the many cars that sometimes block the crossing. Since 1991, there have been four collisions at the crossing when motorists failed to stop. Peagler claims hundreds of near misses occur annually. Overhead signal lights will remain on the site, because crossing gates on a 110-ft.-wide street were deemed too impractical.
Idaho Northern installed the Bodan crossing panel system with technical help from the manufacturer, Transpo Industries Inc. Polymer concrete used to produce the crossing surface panels is said to provide a compressive strength greater than 14,000 psi. The system incorporates a bridge-design concept that transfers vehicle axle loads directly to the track rails. In contrast to other crossing systems, Transpo officials note, the absence of permanent attachments securing the modular panels to cross ties eliminates stress on the crossing surface and allows easy access for routine maintenance.
The polymer concrete panels are resistant to deicing salts and diesel fuel, thus further extending their service life. Bodan panels are reportedly the only crossing surface panels to provide a lifetime skid-resistant surface, an additional safety feature for wet weather conditions.