While the hazardous conditions remain in place and near misses continue, a new safety measure has gone up in Mer Rouge aimed to curtail drivers from trying to beat oncoming trains.
Just over a week ago, officials with the Union Pacific Railroad installed a video monitor at the uber-busy railroad crossing downtown.
Mitch Stephens, Mer Rouge Police Department chief of police, said the decision to install the video that will track traffic was likely made in reaction to a number of factors, particularly the train crash just north of the intersetion last month at the Kennedy Rice Mill that killed two adult women and one unborn baby, as well as the town's concerns expressed in the media.
While the plan has not been finalized, the goal, said Stepens, would be for the town’s police to regularly review the video and identify the driver or license number of the vehicle that illegally crosses the tracks.
The accompanying sign that warns drivers they are being monitored is too small, Stephens critiqued.
He's hopefull it will be replaced with a larger, more visible one soon, but says “it's a step in the right direction.
“I haven't talked to the railroad police about the sign (size) yet, but this will hopefully help alleviate” the dangers, he added.
The police chief said worries over a bad accident happening stay on his mind.
An average of three to four times a month, a driver crashes into the crossarms at the intersection racing an approaching train.
Stephens said the department remains aggressive about ticketing any driver who disregards the flashing warnings.
Yet, some anxious drivers will compromise safety to skirt inconvenience.
While the town's judge sets the fines for violators on an individual basis, the costs can range up to about $500.