Legal Insight from Thomas Jones.
Closing crossings are 100 percent effective in preventing collisions at crossings. Installation of flashing lights signals with automatic gates is 93 percent effective in preventing collisions at crossings. Yet, the railroads do not evaluate for dangerous upgrade conditions or pay for upgrades to automatic signals on their own. Most always, the railroad waits for public funding while the public is in danger.
Railroads know that the public safety answer at public crossings is to either close the crossing (remove the chance of wreck) or to put up automatic signals (affirmatively warn the public). Nothing prevents railroads from evaluating which of its public crossings meet the industry standard conditions to be upgraded to automatic signals (flashing lights and automatic gates). Nothing prevents railroads from paying for its own crossings to be upgraded to automatic signals.
This Wisconsin crossing incident is a perfect example of a railroad crossing where a reasonable public driver is regularly and needlessly put into danger. The railroad operating through there and using this spur track for profit should affirmatively pay for upgrading the crossing to flashing lights signals and automatic gates. Multiple tracks is one of the federal standard conditions which if present is a prime reason for upgrading to automatic signals. Instead, the railroads wait for the federal, state or local government to step in with public taxpayer money to upgrade the crossing to automatic signals. Why should we the taxpayers pay money for upgrading crossings where the railroad operates many trains every day through the crossing for profit?