The state Department of Transportation and Development is initiating a review of the La. 88 railroad crossing in Iberia Parish where trains have crashed into vehicles at least once each year for the last four years, including in the five-person fatality that happened shortly before Christmas.
State transportation engineers will review traffic volumes and crash reports, conduct speed studies and take measurements at the intersection, including the percentage of trucks that travel daily over the crossing that’s 35 feet from an intersection with La. 182.
“The study is estimated to take place for approximately two months and will help determine what, if any, additional traffic measures are needed for the area,” DOTD spokesperson Deidra Druillhet said on Wednesday.
The crossing’s most recent upgrade was the January 2015 installation of a sign warning drivers against stopping on the tracks, according to DOTD. Before that, crossing guards and lights were installed in 2003.
A State Police report released on Tuesday said all signals were working in the most recent crash on Dec. 22.
The study also will include on-site observations of traffic during peak and nonpeak hours, Druillhet said.
The Federal Highway Administration’s Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices recommends traffic signals where two roads intersect in close proximity to a railroad crossing, as is the case at La. 88 close to its intersection with La. 182. The intersection currently lacks a traffic signal.
According to the manual — which guides traffic engineers nationwide — a traffic control signal should be considered at such a crossing if a study first determines the rail crossing is within 140 feet of an intersection. The crossing at La. 88 is much closer, only 35 feet from the intersection.
The specification that must be met is based on a model that takes traffic volumes for each of the intersecting highways during peak hours and plots that number on the graph based on the distance from the crossing to the intersection. The point must be above the indicated curve to warrant a signal.
Should the measurements warrant a signal’s installation, the manual further recommends the installation of a sensor that recognizes when vehicles are on the tracks and forces the light at the intersection to turn green when a train is approaching.
The most recent traffic measurements recorded for the intersection are from 2010, when an estimated 6,100 vehicles passed over the La. 88 crossing daily, according to state figures provided to the Federal Railroad Administration.
Another 12,000 vehicles were recorded traveling along La. 182 about 5 miles from the intersection, according to DOTD figures recorded in 2014.
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