Tracks to get crossing arms after crash, near misses

By CANDY NEAL
cneal@dcherald.com

The Indiana Department of Transportation plans to add crossing arms to the railroad crossing at County Road 600 West near Duff; however, a time has not yet been announced for the installation.

“They are going to work us into their schedule” Dubois County Highway Supervisor Steve Berg told the Dubois County Commissioners Tuesday. “It sounds like it will be a year or so. But we are in the schedule.”

The effort to get the crossing arms started after the county heard from Velpen resident Sam Schwenk about the matter. Schwenk’s wife, Shelly, was injured Sept. 5, after her northbound vehicle collided with a train at the crossing; the accident totaled her car. She did not see the lights because the nearby cornfield created a blind spot and the lights were fuzzy and not easily visible in the daylight sun.

After that, the commissioners heard from other drivers about near misses at the crossing and not being able to see the flashing lights at certain times of the day because of the sun.

The county sent letters and information about the need for crossing arms to INDOT, which is responsible for protection at railroad crossings.

INDOT officials told Berg recently that the project has been put onto their work list. “We should receive the initial commitment letter this week,” Berg said Tuesday.

State officials have indicated that if the county is willing to help with the cost of the installation, the project could be done quicker. The commissioners indicated on Tuesday that the county would be open to helping with the cost, but wants to know an amount.

Berg plans to talk to INDOT representatives about the price when they come for the site visit, which has not yet been scheduled. Berg will share that information with the commissioners when that happens, he said.

“If we have a dollar amount, we can get money in place with the county,” Berg said.

INDOT initially told Berg that the total cost of the installation will be about $400,000. But officials plan to come look at the area to get a better idea of the cost, Berg said. Berg and County Engineer Brent Wendholt believe the overall cost will be less than INDOT’s estimate.

More than 1,000 vehicles travel on 600 West each day.

 

The commissioners also:

• Hired Kimberly Snyder as the assistant director of the county’s 911 department. Snyder has been with the department since April 2004. She will move to the new position in April as current Assistant Director Jeana Mathies transitions to the director position; current director Janice Love is retiring at the end of March.

• Approved the Dubois County Substance Abuse Council’s annual request to receive funding designated to the organization. The funding comes from user fees people pay to the courts. The total council’s total funding is $43,668.28, which includes $2,274.67 that was not spent last year.

• Announced that winter hours for the Dubois County Veterans Service office will be shorter than normal. The office will be open from 8 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays, until March 15; Veterans Service Officer Bob Johnson is also available on other days by appointment. After March 15, the office will return to being open from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. on those days. The office is in the courthouse annex, 602 Main St., and its phone number is 812-481-7090.

• Appointed Dennis Whitsitt to the Huntingburg Planning Commission. He replaces Mike Schmett, who died in December.

• Heard that Dubois Circuit Judge Nathan Verkamp has appointed Joseph Keusch to the Dubois County Park Board. Keusch replaces Judy Olinger, who died in November.




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