Editorial on upgrades needed to Fernie railroad crossing

I think the City of Fernie needs to revisit the request to put up a railroad crossing at the 13th Street location after last week's accident

Last week a train incident occurred at the railroad crossing near T.J.’s Auto Body when a truck heading northbound on Ridgemont Ave. skidded into the side of a Canadian Pacific (CP) freight train. No injuries were reported during this incident and although Cst. David Devine said that driving conditions were likely a factor, I think the City of Fernie needs to revisit their request to put up a railroad crossing at the 13th Street location.

In late July, council sent a request to Transport Canada urging them to update the railroad crossing at that location, but unfortunately nothing has been done yet.

During the July council meeting, councillors noted the importance of having crossing arms there, especially considering the proximity of the crossing to the school.

Unfortunately, Transport Canada has specific guidelines that need to be met in order to install a crossing, and the proximity of a crossing to a school isn’t one of them. One of the guidelines to install gate arms include a railway design speed of more than 50 m/ph. This guideline, along with four others must be met in order for Transport Canada to consider the project. The issue is that this crossing falls short of achieving the warrants for adding gates.

Recent issues with this unprotected crossing, however, indicate a need for gate arms.

I personally feel the installation of gate arms at the 13th Street location would help ensure drivers are taking the proper precautions when approaching that crossing. Drivers need to be reducing their speed, especially considering the proximity of the school to the crossing, and I think the installation of gate arms would help to enforce the speed limit further.

The city is willing and ready to move forward with the project and I believe it’s time for Transport Canada and CP Rail to step up and help ensure the safety of Fernie residents, especially considering the recent collision at that location.

During the July council meeting Mayor Mary Giuliano noted the project would cost an estimated $30,000, with the City of Fernie taking on the responsibility of funding 25 per cent of the project, while CP would fund another 25 per cent and Transport Canada would fund the remaining 50 per cent.

In my opinion, $300,000 is a small price to pay to ensure the safety of our residents.