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Monday, May 14, 2012

KCS pursues public safety improvements through engineering

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There are three components to Kansas City Southern' U.S. public safety program, education, enforcement and engineering. KCS works closely with Operation Lifesaver on the education and enforcement components. Example activities include Officer on a Train events, like the one in May in Gulfport, Miss., that yielded 42 citations for violations at public crossings; the multitude of presentations given by employees who volunteer their time to speak to community organizations about public safety and KCS police participation with local law enforcement at annual public safety expos throughout Louisiana.

KCS is also pursuing opportunities to improve public safety through engineering activities. Last month, the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development hosted its bi-annual Transportation Safety Summit, covering topics from quiet zones to rail safety and crossing closures.

KCS signal project engineer Danny Lites joined the Federal Railroad Administration Region Five and mayor of DeQuincy, La., to provide various perspectives on crossing closures.

Among other topics related to crossing closures, Lites talked about KCS' considerations during closure negotiations. He emphasized that KCS' first concern is for the safety of the public and that eliminating a crossing provides the highest level of crossing safety. KCS approaches most crossing closures from a corridor standpoint, but will work just as aggressively on a single crossing closure opportunity. Considerations include train count, motorist traffic, changes in traffic patterns, traffic control devices, proximity of other crossings, crossing redundancy and the potential to create trespassing issues.

Since 2000, in the U.S., KCS has gained 133 public and 42 private crossing closures. Now, 215 of the remaining at-grade crossings on the system are marked as targets for closure.

On the same day, KCS public safety director Allen Pepper spoke at a similar event with the Texas Department of Transportation. His topic was KCS' public passive sign program in Texas. This program includes the installation or update of a YIELD sign, crossbucks with reflective striping and an emergency notification sign facing the driver on both sides of the crossing, all with a cement base.

KCS has already implemented the passive sign program at public and private crossings in all U.S. states in which it operates with the exception of Missouri. The Missouri program is expected to take place this year once master agreements are in place.