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Author Topic: Medians on two-lane routes at railroad crossings?  (Read 895 times)

hbelkins

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Medians on two-lane routes at railroad crossings?
« on: March 25, 2019, 12:37:12 PM »

What is the purpose of this practice? I've seen it in several locations in Illinois, Nebraska, and Utah as my Amtrak ride progresses. The only thing I can think of is that it might prevent a car from passing another stopped car ahead of it to try to beat an oncoming train.
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MNHighwayMan

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Re: Medians on two-lane routes at railroad crossings?
« Reply #1 on: March 25, 2019, 12:54:59 PM »

I'd assume it's to stop/inhibit vehicles from trying to go around the crossing gates.
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Re: Medians on two-lane routes at railroad crossings?
« Reply #2 on: March 25, 2019, 12:55:35 PM »

Around here, there are vertical bars (flexible bollards, if I'm using the term correctly) that prevent cars from crossing the median, but it's not a median itself.
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roadman

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Re: Medians on two-lane routes at railroad crossings?
« Reply #3 on: March 25, 2019, 01:59:44 PM »

The divider medians at two-lane grade crossings are installed to deter traffic from driving around lowered gates.  Such installations are normally provided as a condition of getting a quiet zone (where trains can't blow the horns)established.  Note that these treatments are paid for solely by the community requesting the quiet zone.

Another waste of money to appease people who willingly buy houses near railroad tracks, and then are taken by surprise when trains actually use them.
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US 89

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Re: Medians on two-lane routes at railroad crossings?
« Reply #4 on: March 25, 2019, 02:31:00 PM »

quiet zone (where trains can't blow the horns)

Not quite -- all a quiet zone does is remove the requirement that a train blow its horn at every grade crossing. If the train operators feel a need to (usually for safety reasons), they will blow the horn regardless. (I think quiet zone crossings can also have gates in all 4 quadrants instead of a median, but I'm not 100% sure of that.)

I'm familiar with the Amtrak route through the Wasatch Front and can confirm that most (all?) of it is a quiet zone between Provo and Salt Lake.
« Last Edit: March 25, 2019, 02:39:39 PM by US 89 »
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roadman

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Re: Medians on two-lane routes at railroad crossings?
« Reply #5 on: March 25, 2019, 03:54:01 PM »

quiet zone (where trains can't blow the horns)

Not quite -- all a quiet zone does is remove the requirement that a train blow its horn at every grade crossing. If the train operators feel a need to (usually for safety reasons), they will blow the horn regardless. (I think quiet zone crossings can also have gates in all 4 quadrants instead of a median, but I'm not 100% sure of that.)

I'm familiar with the Amtrak route through the Wasatch Front and can confirm that most (all?) of it is a quiet zone between Provo and Salt Lake.

At least around here, when quiet zones are established, they generally apply to ALL crossings in a community.  For example. on the MBTA's Western Route through Melrose, Wakefield, and Reading, the trains are prohibited from blowing their horns - except, as you point out, in an emergency, at EVERY crossing along the line in these communities.

Four quadrant gates are typically used for higher speed corridors.  The MBTA tried them out at a crossing in Abington - they were a rousing failure.  Remember the old Lionel crossing gate with the pressure contactor under the track and how the gate would bounce up and down.  Well, that's exactly what happened in Abington.  Apparently the passage of the train was affecting the "car on track - raise the exit gate" sensors.  The 4 quads were quietly disabled shortly after that.
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hbelkins

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Re: Medians on two-lane routes at railroad crossings?
« Reply #6 on: March 28, 2019, 03:31:11 PM »

Around here, there are vertical bars (flexible bollards, if I'm using the term correctly) that prevent cars from crossing the median, but it's not a median itself.

I saw that mostly in Illinois. In other places, it was an actual raised concrete median.
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Brian556

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Re: Medians on two-lane routes at railroad crossings?
« Reply #7 on: March 29, 2019, 01:23:31 AM »

I don't like four-quadrant gates because they make the crossing more dangerous, because they can trap vehicles on the crossing. On YouTube, there are tons of videos showing this happening. I say they should be outlawed.
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froggie

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Re: Medians on two-lane routes at railroad crossings?
« Reply #8 on: March 29, 2019, 10:45:06 AM »

^ Four-quadrant gates only make a crossing "dangerous" because of the stupidity of drivers.  If they would wait until there's room for them ahead before going, they won't get caught.
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renegade

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Re: Medians on two-lane routes at railroad crossings?
« Reply #9 on: March 29, 2019, 11:19:15 AM »

I don't like four-quadrant gates because they make the crossing more dangerous, because they can trap vehicles on the crossing. On YouTube, there are tons of videos showing this happening. I say they should be outlawed.
The gates are not made of titanium.  If you're trapped, it's possible to drive through them.  Sure, they would damage your vehicle, but that would be a lot less damage than getting struck by the train.
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roadman

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Re: Medians on two-lane routes at railroad crossings?
« Reply #10 on: March 29, 2019, 03:09:48 PM »

I don't like four-quadrant gates because they make the crossing more dangerous, because they can trap vehicles on the crossing. On YouTube, there are tons of videos showing this happening. I say they should be outlawed.
The gates are not made of titanium.  If you're trapped, it's possible to drive through them.  Sure, they would damage your vehicle, but that would be a lot less damage than getting struck by the train.
Also, as I noted above in the MBTA Abington example, the exit gates will normally delay lowering if they sense a vehicle is still on the tracks.  And the fact that the gates are designed to break away if hit is not common knowledge among most drivers, which is why people finding themselves in such a situation tend to 'freeze' instead of continuing through the lowering gate.
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TheHighwayMan394

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Re: Medians on two-lane routes at railroad crossings?
« Reply #11 on: March 29, 2019, 07:39:25 PM »

I don't like four-quadrant gates because they make the crossing more dangerous, because they can trap vehicles on the crossing. On YouTube, there are tons of videos showing this happening. I say they should be outlawed.

Does “DO NOT STOP ON TRACKS” not register with that many people? It’s like they’re afraid if they stop before the tracks for a car across them, they *will* get stuck waiting for a train, which is worse than death I guess!
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Re: Medians on two-lane routes at railroad crossings?
« Reply #12 on: March 29, 2019, 09:40:43 PM »

I don't like four-quadrant gates because they make the crossing more dangerous, because they can trap vehicles on the crossing. On YouTube, there are tons of videos showing this happening. I say they should be outlawed.

Does “DO NOT STOP ON TRACKS” not register with that many people? It’s like they’re afraid if they stop before the tracks for a car across them, they *will* get stuck waiting for a train, which is worse than death I guess!

Around here, the gates are lowered on a delay after the flashing lights start.  If there were four quadrant gates, the only way to get stuck inside would be to try to race under the gate before it closes.

I absolutely hate those things put in the median at railroad crossings.  This makes it nearly impossible to U turn at a crossing if the gates get stuck, the train stops, or something else goes wrong.  There is no way out.
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Rick Powell

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Re: Medians on two-lane routes at railroad crossings?
« Reply #13 on: March 29, 2019, 11:02:12 PM »

Many of the ones in IL are installed due to train horn ordinances but not all. I was on a project where a median and new RR crossing gates got installed to discourage drive-around after a fatal Amtrak-semi truck crash and another near miss at Bourbonnais, and also relocated a nearby parallel highway to create more stopping/storage room for trucks in advance of the crossing. We tried to give enough shoulder room where a disabled vehicle could be passed if it was within the median protected area. My late dad was also involved in the early installation of the four quadrant gates in the Chicago-St Louis 110-mph rail corridor adjacent to historic 66. With the signals’ long service time in place, the railroad seems to have worked out most of the bugs in the four quadrant systems in that corridor.
« Last Edit: March 29, 2019, 11:12:19 PM by Rick Powell »
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mgk920

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Re: Medians on two-lane routes at railroad crossings?
« Reply #14 on: March 31, 2019, 11:40:16 AM »

I don't like four-quadrant gates because they make the crossing more dangerous, because they can trap vehicles on the crossing. On YouTube, there are tons of videos showing this happening. I say they should be outlawed.

Does “DO NOT STOP ON TRACKS” not register with that many people? It’s like they’re afraid if they stop before the tracks for a car across them, they *will* get stuck waiting for a train, which is worse than death I guess!

Just a few days ago, I passed a CN railroad cop who had a local hotel airport limo pulled over on a major street (College Ave/WI 125) here in Appleton, WI.  My best guess is that he caught the limo stopped on the track at a major crossing (College Ave/Memorial Dr/Richmond St - WI 47/WI 125) that was a few blocks behind him.  Yes, there are signs there that say "DO NOT STOP ON TRACKS".  Not a good day for that limo driver as from what I am aware of, CN Police do not issue warnings.

Sad to say it, but driver stupidity at railroad crossings has pretty much been the rule ever since the first railroad crossed the first path and a horse and rider were nailed by one of the first trains to cross it.

 :rolleyes:

Mike
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Revive 755

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Re: Medians on two-lane routes at railroad crossings?
« Reply #15 on: March 31, 2019, 12:37:24 PM »

One of the issues I have with quiet zones is at some crossings there are curves on the tracks so by the time the engineer rounds the curve and sees the crossing signals are not working, blowing the horn may be too late.  IMHO all quiet zones should have advanced indicators for the engineers so they can see if the crossing signals are working properly, similar to  this one in DeKalb, IL. Or perhaps one similar to those used on the light rail lines in St. Louis (example; the light is dark when the signals are inactive, flashes white from signal activation until the gate finishes lowering, then is steady white afterwards).

As to stopping on the tracks, most of the time I will agree to it being poor driver choices.  There is the occasional crossing with design issues such as this one in downtown Arlington Heights, IL (and the occasional ped that decides to jaywalk and requires a driver to stop on the tracks instead of running over the jaywalker).  Or this extremely skewed one in Elwood Park, IL.
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1995hoo

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Re: Medians on two-lane routes at railroad crossings?
« Reply #16 on: April 01, 2019, 01:47:53 PM »

What is the purpose of this practice? I've seen it in several locations in Illinois, Nebraska, and Utah as my Amtrak ride progresses. The only thing I can think of is that it might prevent a car from passing another stopped car ahead of it to try to beat an oncoming train.

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jeffandnicole

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Re: Medians on two-lane routes at railroad crossings?
« Reply #17 on: April 01, 2019, 02:26:16 PM »

What is the purpose of this practice? I've seen it in several locations in Illinois, Nebraska, and Utah as my Amtrak ride progresses. The only thing I can think of is that it might prevent a car from passing another stopped car ahead of it to try to beat an oncoming train.


Heck, that driver wasn't trying to beat the train - he didn't notice the lights or the gate! Note at the :38 mark, the driver hit and went under the gate just prior to getting hit by the train.
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