transportation

Train
Brad Palmer, WSIU Radio

Amtrak and the Illinois Department of Transportation showed off one of its new locomotives at the Carbondale station Wednesday.

Illinois has received 12 of the 44-hundred horsepower diesel-electric locomotives  that are also being put on routes in Missouri, Michigan and Wisconsin.

As of this month – Illinois is required to have updated signage for emergency situations at rail-road crossings. People can call the number on these standardized blue signs to report track obstructions or other safety issues at specific locations. If a crossing gate is malfunctioning, for example, railroad authorities need to know. 

Signs with this emergency information have been around since the  mid 1970s, says Chip Pew, railroad safety specialist for the Illinois Commerce Commission. But the signs were not standardized, making it difficult for pedestrians and motorists to properly locate them.

The information "might have been on a sticker, wrapped around an appliance...in many cases it was on a large placard, sometimes on a small sign," Pew says.  In response to this lack of uniformity-- not just across Illinois, but across the United States, the Federal Railroad Administration began the Emergency Notification System (ENS) program in 2011, with the expectation that the blue signs would be fully implemented by September 1, 2017. 

To make sure the public is aware of the blue signs and the looming deadline,  Pew and a team of volunteers have been conducting outreach through a program called Operation Lifesaver, that focuses on railroad safety education. 

"People are shocked that [the] information has been there for that long and did not know it, but they find that the blue sign is very visible and that the information it contains is obviously very important," Pew says.

With the added attention to the blue signs, Pew says he hopes people think more about their safety around railroad crossings. 

Operation Lifesaver volunteer, Gordon Bowe, echoes this sentiment. Bowe is a retired Metra conductor who now uses his free time to educate kids, teens and adults about the dangers of rail crossings. During his time as a conductor, Bowe witnessed accidents where motorists or pedestrians did not yield to his oncoming train. He says he would like for people to understand that crossing gates exist for a reason.

"A lot of [people] don't realize that from the first blink of [the crossing] light, the road is closed", explains Bowe, "they think it's 'do I have the capability of getting across before I get hit?' "

He says it only takes 20 seconds for a train to reach that crossing after the lights go off. 

Illinois ranks second in number of track miles and crossings--right behind Texas. It's also in the top five states when it comes to train-vehicle accidents. 

Veterans Airport of Southern Illinois has secured a substantial amount of FAA funding thanks to a local business.

The Williamson County facility and others like it are required to transport at least 10-thousand passengers each year to be eligible for a million dollars in federal funding.

Southern Illinoisans are asking a lot of questions about an uptick in crashes along Interstate 57 and Highway 13. What’s causing them? How can they be prevented?


Officials in Jackson, Monroe, Randolph and Perry Counties are gaining support to make the two-lane highway, Illinois 127, four lanes. They're calling it the 4 Lane 4 County Commission.

Amtrak Says Its Trains Can Get You to the Eclipse

Jun 28, 2017

If you're planning a trip to Carbondale for the total solar eclipse on August 21st, you might consider riding the train.

Amtrak still has open seats at a discount rate for the eclipse weekend. Whether you're coming from the north or south, Amtrak's Media Relations Officer Marc Magliari says Amtrak is the way to go.

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Two southern Illinois facilities are among the top airports in the state according to the Illinois Department of Transportation.

IDOT recognized six airports with 2017 Airport of the Year awards.

Bridge
File photo

The Mississippi River Bridge at Chester has re-opened.

The Randolph County Sheriff's office says the bridge that connects Chester and Perryville, Missouri is now open to traffic again.

The bridge closed last Thursday when water on the Missouri side covered the roadway.
 

Bridge
File photo

The Williamson County Emergency Management Agency wants county residents to report any flood related damage to its office.

Officials are collecting damage assessments in case disaster recovery assistance would become available in the future.

Updated Road Closure List:

The state budget impasse has left Illinois months behind in payment to downstate mass transit agencies. That's led to cuts in service from Kankakee to Jacksonville.

They agencies are funded in part by local sales tax collections. But that money has to pass through state government. Even after another $19.3 million dollars was released Monday, the Illinois comptroller's office says the state still owes transit agencies $70 million dollars.

People
Brad Palmer, WSIU Radio

Illinois U.S. Senator Dick Durbin met Friday with southern Illinois leaders to talk about the impact of proposed federal cuts to transportation.

Durbin says President Trump's plan harshly targets the region.

Crash
NBC News

The National Transportation Safety Board's says pilot error was to blame in a plane crash in western Kentucky that killed four members of a southern Illinois family.

Teenagers are texting while behind the wheel, despite the law prohibiting it.  And that's not all they're doing. 

The Williamson County airport will have a dedication ceremony on Friday to honor its newly built terminal.

Several downstate mass transit districts say they are on the verge of shutdown — or have already shut down.

Thousands of people rely on the services to get to medical appointments, the grocery store, or even work. And in turn the services rely on the state of Illinois for their funding.

Buick, a subsidiary of General Motors, has become the first domestic brand in more than three decades to earn one of the highest ratings for reliability from Consumer Reports. Results from the Consumer Reports Annual Brand Reliability Survey were released in Detroit Monday.

A proposed amendment to the state’s constitution would protect money set aside for transportation projects. Supporters say the change is needed because money that's supposed to be earmarked for building roads has gone to other expenses over the years. But the amendment could allow some of those practices to continue, while endangering other popular programs. 

A proposed change to Illinois' constitution would ensure the state has a solid stream of cash going to fund road projects.

Voters will decide if the state should put constraints on money raised through license plate fees and motor fuel taxes ... by forbidding that money to be used on other needs.

Legislators have ratified an amendment to the Illinois constitution but it's up to voters whether the provision will be enshrined in state law.

Over the years, when lawmakers have been short on cash for state needs, they've dipped into funds that are supposed to pay for infrastructure.

The idea is to put an end to that practice.

The proposed constitutional amendment would put transportation funding in a figurative "lock box."

Near record numbers of Americans are buying second homes — the kind on wheels, that is.

The Great Recession almost totaled the RV industry, but now camper trailers and motor homes are popular again. Daryn Anderson is the owner of an RV dealership south of Kansas City, and he says his sales here have roughly tripled since the bottom of the recession.

"Business has been great. Six straight record years and no end in sight," he says. "We're excited."

A large tree that had fallen onto the tracks caused a San Francisco Bay Area commuter train to derail Monday night, in an incident that sent nine passengers to the hospital — four of them with serious injuries.

The train, Altamont Corridor Express (ACE) No. 10, was traveling from San Jose to Stockton, Calif., when it went off the tracks Monday night. The derailment came after hours of sustained rains.

Member station KALW's Ben Trefney reports:

One person is dead, and four others injured, after a crash along Illinois Route 148 in Williamson County.

KY Department of Transportation

A long-planned federal highway across southern Illinois connecting Cape Girardeau, Missouri to Paducah, Kentucky is no more — for now.

Amtrak says that its passenger numbers in Illinois fell to about 1.3 million in the latest fiscal year, or a decline of about 4 percent.

The Illinois Department of Transportation is hosting a series of statewide public meetings on its new five-year, $8.4 billion highway improvement plan.

A small plane had to make an emergency landing in Perry County Wednesday.

Illinois' transportation chief has delivered a tough review of the state's capacity to solve problems, saying it's planning ``for yesterday's transportation system.''

Illinois State Police have closed Highway 148 near the Crab Orchard Lake bridge in Williamson County after a fatal traffic crash.

The Illinois budget stalemate is delaying payments of the Motor Fuel Tax.

Highway engineers across the state say this means county roads could end up in very poor shape going into the winter season.

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