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Ashdown takes steps to improve deadly train crossings - KTBS.com - Shreveport, LA News, Weather and Sports

Ashdown takes steps to improve deadly train crossings

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ASHDOWN, Ark. -

Another deadly crash at an Ashdown rail crossing has city officials moving full steam ahead to make improvements.  
    
Federal authorities say the city has one of the nation's most hazardous railroad crossings.

Bobbie Calloway, 41, was an Ashdown mother of three teenage sons.

She was killed last month after a train struck her vehicle on Locke Street.

"Bobbie was a lovable person, always had a smile, very sweet girl," said Melissa Brown, Calloway's aunt.
 
Brown says something needs to be done about the dangerous train-vehicle crossings.

There's been nearly 20 wrecks in the last decade.

Since 2009, there have been four fatalities.

"I'm just scared someone else will have to go through what we went through," said Brown. "Losing a loved one."

Brown is optimistic about the city's recent decision to seek a written proposal from Kansas City Southern and the state about closing and improving the rail crossings.

The proposal includes closing the crossings at Fulton and Whitaker streets and upgrading the remaining three with crossing arms and flashing lights.

In the past, the city has declined any monetary offers from KCS to close the crossings.

Ashdown resident Otis Haddox watches the trains come through town everyday.

He says upgrades to the crossings could help alert motorists.

"We all forget sometimes," explained Haddox. "I almost got hit there, I know for a fact that you need to be paying attention."

KTBS 3 reported on this railroad danger 13 months ago, in October of 2012.

Then as now the inconvenience to motorists and businesses of closing any crossings is a major concern of some townspeople.

There are more than two dozen trains that come through Ashdown on a daily basis.

City officials say thousands of motorists come across the tracks every day.

"Anyone that uses any one of the five crossings wants to protect it, we've had it back to the 1900's," said Mayor Carroll McClarty.

Mayor McClarty says Ashdown was built around the railroad.

In fact, the railroad splits the city of nearly 5,000 right down the middle.  

"If we were laying out Ashdown today, there is no way you would lay out five railroad crossings," said McClarty.
 
He says after the new proposals are drafted and reviewed by the city attorney, the council will take action.

If approved, he says it may require many people to change the way they cross the railroad tracks.

"It's a short term inconvenience, for the long term safety of our people," said McClarty.

He says the issue over the dangerous crossings has been talked about long enough and the city owes it to the public to do something.

Mayor McClarty says once a resolution is negotiated with KCS and written proposals are completed, a special meeting will be called for council members to take a vote.
 

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